Get Acquainted with Your Well – Know Your Well
If you live in a rural area, chances are your family’s daily water supply comes from a well on your property. If you haven’t already, get acquainted with your well. It’s the first step in doing everything you can to protect the quality of your well water and the groundwater we all share.
We will explore types of wells, their maintenance and well water supplies, and how each can affect the quality of your well water.
What have you done for your well, lately? As a well owner, and someone who wants to ensure the water your family is drinking is safe, you need to:
Your well and your well’s water are your responsibility You have a legal responsibility for the condition of all wells on your property, under the authority of Ontario Water Well Regulation. A copy of the regulation is available on the Ontario Ministry of the Environment Web site. A watertight well keeps contaminants out of your well water… and out of the groundwater your well draws from. Your well taps directly into a groundwater source. Groundwater is a shared resource we all rely on. Contamination from one well can put people at risk far beyond your property. A properly maintained well and water testing help protect the groundwater that supplies your well water. Shortcuts risk future costly repairs and health hazards to family and neighbours.
What type of well do you have? There are different types of wells. Like most homeowners, you probably didn’t or won’t become directly involved in the construction of your well. But you should know what type of well you have because its design, construction and maintenance have a direct effect on the quality and quantity of water you draw from it. Here’s the take-home message, regardless of well type: water, and nothing but water, should enter your well, and it should only enter your well from the bottom. The sides and top of your well should be watertight – free of leaks and seepage. No contaminant or foreign material should ever have access to your well, anywhere! Otherwise, these could harm the water your family draws from it and the groundwater it draws from. W hen it comes to wells, think watertight!
Water Well Record A ‘Water Well Record’ provides very important information about your particular well. As a well owner, you should get a copy of the Water Well Record that was filed after your well was built. Contact the Ministry of the Environment at 1-888-396-9355.
Plug and seal any old, unused well If you have an old well on your property that won’t be used again, plug and seal it properly as soon as possible. This is important to:
Each well and its surroundings are unique. Contact a licensed well contractor for the proper method of “abandoning” your old well. Never use an old well as a garbage dump – especially for hazardous materials. That old well taps into tomorrow’s drinking water. If you have a well that you’re not using now, but might use in the future, you must maintain it like any other working well.
Do you know where your well water comes from? Some water sources are at greater risk than others. Your water well reaches down into an aquifer, which is a layer of rock or soil that holds and transmits large amounts of water. Just as well types and conditions can pose levels of risk that you should manage, so do different sources of water. For example, in some cases, the protective soil above an aquifer is very shallow– less than 3 metres or 10 feet deep. This leaves the water in the aquifer vulnerable to contaminated runoff from above.
Is your water supply “highly vulnerable”? The most common types of vulnerable water supplies are:
Is your well upslope or downslope? Whenever a well is located at a lower ground level than the surrounding area, the water in your well is exposed to runoff and potential contamination from septic beds, livestock yards, ponds and streams, etc. Be careful of practices on your property and aware of practices on higher ground off your property that may affect the quality of water recharging your well.
Does surface water pool around your well? This is not a good sign. If surface water around or near the well can gain direct entry into the well and aquifer, this puts your water supply at risk. It may also mean your well isn’t properly sealed.
Contamination checklist Look around to see if any of these contamination sources are in the vicinity of your well:
Well Safety Checklist
Outside Your Well
Inside Your Well