The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is reminding well owners of risks to their well water supply.

The health unit says many conservation authorities are declaring low water conditions across Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Counties. As water levels in the water table drop, some wells may draw contaminants from further away into your drinking water supply, according to the health unit.  Also, soil may compact and pull away from well casings making them vulnerable to runoff when it does rain. When there is a drought, well owners may notice changes in their water supply including quality and quantity.

Private well owners are encouraged to sample their wells to make sure the bacteriological quality of their water has not changed. The health unit says water testing bottles are available at any health unit office. Filled bottles can be returned to any Health Unit office or designated drop off site, a list of locations can be found here. Testing is free.

If your sample results indicate poor bacteriological quality, the health unit says to boil the water at a rolling boil for one minute and then cool and store safely for use. During low water conditions, disinfection of contaminated wells may result in your well running dry. To discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this procedure call the health unit at 1-800-660-5853.

Well owners are encouraged to conserve water before wells start to be problematic, and to consider alternate safe sources of water available if there is a shortage of water from the well.

Ways the health unit says you can reduce water include (Information provided by the CRCA source: Water Research Foundation):

  • Flush toilets only when necessary as toilets can account for 24-percent of typical use in a home
  • Take shorter showers as showers account for 20% of typical use in a home
  • Fix leaks, dripping faucets and running toilets as these can account for 12 to 19-percent of water usage
  • Ensure when washing clothes your load is full as this can account for 17-percent of water usage
  • Don’t water lawns, wash cars, driveways, etc.
  • Use water collected in your dehumidifier to water plants, etc.
  • Avoid use of your dishwasher or ensure it is full before use

If your well stops providing water, the health unit says do not pour surface water into your well because it can contaminate the water supply with bacteria, parasites and possibly chemical contaminants that can be difficult to remove. Removing your well cap to check water levels frequently, or lowering measuring devices into your well is also not recommended as it can lead to contamination.

More information about what you can do to protect your well water supply and to check the status of drought conditions in your watershed can be found on the South Nation Conservation Authority website here.