well water testing

Testing your well water: What you need to know

Friday May 21st, 2021


There’s nothing like a cold, refreshing glass of water. But if it comes from a well, you will want to make sure it’s safe.

Your well water should be free of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses or parasites that may cause disease, and from chemicals at levels that may be a risk to your health.

If you have a private well, you should have the water tested to see if there are any problems. Your most important tests look for certain bacteria that tell you there may be disease-causing microorganisms in your water. You should test for these bacteria (E. coli and total coliforms) every six months.

There are also other tests for chemicals and general water quality. Your provincial or territorial drinking water authority or local public health unit can help direct you on what you should test for, how often to test and suggest an accredited laboratory that can do the tests. It’s also a good idea to test your water if you notice changes in taste, smell, colour or in land uses or activities, such as construction, near your well.

Follow all instructions from the accredited laboratory on completing and submitting the test forms; collecting, labeling and storing the sample; and handling and transporting the sample to the laboratory.

The best time to sample your well water is when there is the greatest chance of contamination:

• early spring just after the thaw,
• in the fall rainy season,
• after a long dry spell or drought,
• after heavy rains or floods, and
• after the well has not been used for a long period of time.

Check your well record to find out how deep your well is and learn about the geology in your area. Shallow wells or wells that have only a thin layer of soil over rock can become contaminated more easily. Water in these wells needs to be tested more often.

If you or a family member has had a gastrointestinal illness and suspect that it might be related to drinking your well water, speak to your doctor and local health unit and have your water tested.

Find more information at canada.ca by searching the keywords “well aware.”


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