Why you should test your well water every 6 months

Did you know that even if your well water looks, tastes and smells fine, it can still contain contaminants? It’s true. And so, as summer fades into fall, it’s a good time to test your well water to make sure it’s safe.

Remember: if you are the owner of a private well, it is your responsibility to ensure the quality of your well water.

Every six months, you should test your water for E. coli and total coliforms. These bacteria indicate whether or not there may be disease-causing microorganisms in your water. If these bacteria are found, the water may not be safe to drink.

Chemicals at levels that can affect your health may also be found in well water, such as:

  • Nitrate and nitrite
  • Manganese
  • Arsenic
  • Uranium
  • Lead

Check with your provincial or territorial drinking water authority or your local public health unit to find an accredited laboratory to do the tests. They can also provide further information on whether you should test for these or other chemicals as well as guidance on follow-up actions you may need to take if your well water quality results do not meet recommended drinking water quality guidelines.

In addition to microbiological and chemical testing, you can also test for some general water quality parameters. This should be done every two years, and more often if you notice changes in taste, smell or colour, or how the land is being used near your well. General water quality tests help you know if there are conditions that may cause problems with your well and what type of water treatment device you might need.

Extreme weather events such as floods, fires and droughts can also damage your well and contaminate your water. If you have a private well, make sure to test your water after emergencies as they bring a greater chance of contamination.

Find more information on well and drinking water quality at canada.ca/waterhealth

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