Protecting your well water

If your family’s drinking water comes from a well there is a chance it can become contaminated. How? Unfortunately in many different ways!  Contamination of a well can be caused by malfunctioning septic systems, chemical spills, run-off from farming activities, poorly constructed wells, improperly located wells or inadequately maintained wells. If your drinking water comes directly from a lake or river it can become contaminated by all sorts of pollution that may have entered the surface water.

There are several things you can do to help protect your well water.

Routinely monitor your:

  • water quality
  • treatment equipment
  • well condition, and
  • the surrounding area of the well

A visual inspection of the well should be done at least annually and whenever problems are suspected.

The location of the well is also very important. Look at the area 15-30 meters around the well to understand what is most likely to impact water quality.  Take note of the septic bed location, storage containers for chemicals etc.  Ideally the area around the well should slope away from the wellhead. Water draining towards the well or puddles forming around the well can impact water quality.  The well casing should extend above the ground a minimum 16” (40cm).   Many people don’t like the look of their well so they try to hide it, but disguising the well creates an “out of sight, out of mind” situation, making casual, visual inspections unlikely. Camouflaging the well also creates a warm, protected location for mice, rats, chipmunks, snakes or frogs to set up a home. This puts fecal matter directly beside the well and this could cause problems when it comes to protecting the well water quality.

Help protect your drinking water by testing your well water regularly. A key piece of well maintenance is regular water testing. Testing should be done at least 3 times a year. If you get a bad sample result call the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit and ask to speak to a Public Health Inspector.  After corrections have been made, re-test your drinking water, three (3) samples collected 1-3 weeks apart, to confirm that your water supply meets the Ontario Drinking Water Standards.  On-going problems may require an inspection of your well by a licensed well professional.

If you have any questions please contact the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519-352-7270.

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