Making Sure Your Water Is Safe To Drink

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If you need a new well, make sure all quotes are from certified well drillers who understand the area as well as regulations around wells, says Alberta Agriculture water specialist Melissa Orr.

Make sure the well is sited well away from any potential contamination, such as corrals, barns, hazardous materials storage, and septic fields. Your well driller will check for obvious things, but thinking ahead may bring up old, almost forgotten hazards. Other enemies of wells are well pits, now illegal because they act as a funnel to the aquifer. Contaminants can wash in with surface water and well pits are homes for vermin and other wildlife.

Abandoned wells can also be a hazard to the aquifer and must be properly capped.

Regular monitoring and maintenance can prevent some problems and alert you to others before they become serious. Have the driller install a dip tube so you can monitor water depth and water flow into the well. The driller will perform these tests on completion of the well, but a dip tube makes it easy to check static water depth and well flow periodically and provide a record of the well s performance.

Water levels in shallow wells usually fluctuate with the seasons. In deeper wells, water levels don t change much, so any changes should be checked by a specialist. Flow changes should also be investigated. With a new well, Orr recommends chlorine shocking once a year to keep bacteria and other microbes under control.

Drilling for oil and gas may affect aquifers, but Alberta Environment needs some evidence of change to take any action. Orr advises making sure you have a record of well flow, bacteria and chemical analyses that include hydrocarbons and heavy metals taken before any work starts.

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