Reading teststrips

What the results say…

Still in progress! Keep an eye out for updates in 2021.

We are studying how we can ‘read’ test strips for chlorine, pH, alkalinity We are studying how we can ‘read’ test strips for chlorine, pH, alkalinity and hardness using machine learning to help improve the accuracy of citizen monitoring. We’re looking to test our algorithm with your photos. We need volunteers from across Ontario to help us!

For the second phase of this research, we’re looking for volunteers to test 8 times over 4 weeks in two locations. We’re also trying to understand how testing the water can change out relationship with it. To be eligible, you need be in Ontario and record your observations on a smartphone.

Registration is currently closed. Thank you to all our participants!

All participants will be entered in a draw to win 1 large testkit and 2 mini testkits at the end of the study.

Quickstart video

How it will work:

  • Fill out our pre-survey and give us your contact details
  • We’ll send you our study’s Tinykit, which contains a guide, sample sheets, reference card, test strips and thermometer.
  • Choose 2 locations, preferably on different waterbodies (they can be close to one another, we just hope they have different chemistries!) you can visit easily once per week for 4 weeks.
  • Sample weekly, on the same day, at the same time. Collect water temperature, air temperature data with your thermometer. Record test strip results and take a photo using your reference card.
  • Submit your observations using our app.
  • Once your 4 weeks are complete, we will send you our post- study survey.

Choosing your sample locations

For this study, it is more important that the tests are taken consistently than that they are significant for long-term monitoring. This means to choose sites you can easily access and return to for the next tests.

However, if you’d like to learn more about how to select a sample location for longer term monitoring (if you plan to continue testing into next year, for example), you can get more information here.

How to start adding observations


This area will become an area where we will answer common questions we receive about this study. If you have any questions, please email

How will the test strips be interpreted?

Last year, we used volunteers’ photos to train our artificial intelligence algorithm. This year, we’re launching it as a new feature in our app and we need you to help us find bugs and test how accurate it is. So, for this study, you will be using your own vision to interpret colours. The app will then interpret your photo and give you ‘correct’ readings.

What about the QR Code (that black/white square) at the top of the card?

This is for a feature we want to build in the future. Please ignore this for now.

Do I have to use the app?

Yes you do! If you don’t have data where you’re testing, you can fill in the form and later when the app has access to internet, it’ll upload your information.

How do you decide who can participate?

We allow anyone who fills out the application form to participate, so long as they live in Ontario, up to a maximum of 200 participants for this phase of the study.

How long does it take to test and record data?

Most people take between 5-10 minutes per week.


This project is possible thanks to a grant from:

[The testkit] gave me an opportunity to explore lakes and creeks in a way that I was never able to before. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of getting involved to help protect the environment, and it was really interesting to learn about the chemistry and health of different water bodies. It is an incredible feeling to know that you’re contributing to protecting water. We had some really great moments together learning about the nature we both love. I cannot wait to learn more.

Julie Lachapelle, testkit user since 2017