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How can I obtain water well records for the wells on my property?
If your well was reported to the ministry when it was constructed, you can get its record from the Ministry of the Environment. Call the Ministry at 1-888-396-WELL for a certified copy of your record(s).
A search charge of $20.00 is applicable. Once you have the records for a well, note the information on its construction, the static water level at the time of construction, the specific capacity of the well and the pump setting depth. Then note any changes that have occurred since it was built. The information contained in your record may serve as good baseline information in the assessment of your site specific conditions.
How do I get the results of the test?
On the form attached to the bottle, there are boxes where you can indicate that you will pick up the results (at the lab in London only) or that you wish to have the results mailed to you. As well, there is a form attached which has an 800 number that you can call two days after the sampling is done to get your results. It is an automated system that gives the results only, you will not speak to anyone.
How long does it take?
The tests take 24 hours from the time the samples reach the lab.
I'm using more water than I used to. Could this affect my water supply?
Yes. Water shortages are sometimes a direct result of increased water usage. When a well is built there is a calculated maximum safe yield that it can produce. Pump and pressure systems are selected to match the specific capabilities of the well. If water demand increases, and exceeds the maximum safe yield of the well, problems are likely, including water shortages. You can find out if this is the cause of the problem by checking the well's static water level.
Is it OK to add surface water or rain water to my well?
Adding water to your well is not recommended. It could contaminate your supply, and will not alleviate your water shortage problems during drought conditions. If you have added any water of unknown quality, or suspect the quality of the water in your well, you should have the water tested immediately to make sure it is safe to drink.
Should the top of my well be visible?
A well must always be visible to ensure easy access if remedial work to the pump, or other emergency work, must be done immediately. You should determine the exact location of the well if you do not already know where it is. This will help when you need to replace any pumping or other equipment. It is advisable to have the casing raised to a minimum height of 40 cm above the ground surface.
There is more than one well on my property. Why would they have been built?
Previous owners may have experienced water shortages or problems with their existing well(s), and replaced or added to their supply of wells.
What about work in the vicinity of my well?
Development in the vicinity of your well, such as paving or building construction, could affect the ground surface around your well - the ability of the ground to absorb water may be impaired.
What are my responsibilities regarding wells on my property?
Well owners are obliged to maintain all wells on their properties. If a well is not being properly maintained, the well owner must have it plugged. Secure caps and lids must be maintained on the top of any well which is not plugged. If you are unsure of the condition of the well cap or lid, have it inspected by qualified personnel and replaced or upgraded if necessary. This is to help protect and preserve ground water resources and minimize safety risks. Regulation 903 details all requirements regarding well construction, maintenance and abandonment.
What does it cost?
The testing offered by Public Health is free at this time.
What does the lab test my water for?
The London Regional Public Health Lab tests for bacteria only. Counts for coliform and E. coli are reported. The kind of bacteria is not identified.
Samples for chemical testing for fluoride and nitrates are sent to a lab in Toronto. The results are sent to Public Health in about 4 weeks. Information is then sent to the homeowner from Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
What might be wrong with my well water?
Even though your well water may taste and look fine, there are many possible harmful substances that you can't taste, see or smell. Some of these substances get into groundwater as a result of human activities on the surface. Nitrates from animal wastes and fertilizers can filter down through the soil and contaminate ground water. Faulty in-ground sewage disposal systems can also pollute groundwater, as can spills of chemicals beside or near your well. That is why it is important to test your well water, and also to protect and maintain your well to prevent groundwater contamination from taking place.
Who tests well water?
Publicly-owned drinking water systems (ie: municipal systems) that collect and distribute well water to entire communities are tested on a regular basis. Operators of privately-owned systems that provide water to communities, large or small, are also required to conduct regular water quality tests. It is up to you, as the owner of a private well, to have your own well water tested to determine whether your private water supply is safe to drink.
We have a well at our cottage. The water has a very strong sulphur smell. Is it dangerous?
The smell of sulphur does not indicate a health hazard. Rather, the smell is considered an aesthetic inconvenience. Technologies, such as greensand filters, are available to remove sulphur odour. These filters are designed primarily to remove iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide from water. You may wish to contact a qualified water treatment specialist to discuss your options.
What should I do if my well is not providing as much water as usual?
If this is the first time you have experienced a water shortage you should check your pump and pressure system for mechanical failure. You should also check your water level, and start keeping a record of water levels in your well. If you have experienced water shortages in the past, try to remember if they happened during local or regional dry conditions. If not, water shortages may indicate problems associated with your well or pump/pressure system or to the size of the aquifer that your well taps into.
How do I test my water?
How often do I need to sample my well water?
It is recommended that you test your well water three times during the year. The first time you test, you should take three consecutive samples, each one week apart.