With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment industry, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.
Many homes in Canada rely on well water. This means that since the water enters your home without treatment from a municipal facility, you and your family may be very susceptible to toxins and contaminants.
Although the MOE (Ministry of the Environment) regulates the testing and standards of public drinking water supplies, these rules are not applicable to individual water systems including residential single home private wells. As such, if you are a well owner, it is up to you to ensure that your water is truly free of harmful agents and truly safe to drink.
Therefore, it is important for a well owner to understand how outside forces can infiltrate a well water supply, introducing potentially unsafe contaminants and toxins. This will allow you to properly monitor your well and reduce the risk of your family drinking contaminated and potentially harmful water.
How Contaminants and Toxins are Introduced
There are literally thousands of potentially dangerous microorganisms and organic and inorganic toxins, which can come into your well water supply through the soil. From chemicals and disinfectants to agricultural by-products and industry debris, many toxins can be absorbed into the soil and runoff into well water. The diversity of toxins include animal waste, petroleum refinery discharge, runoff from agriculture, waste from drilling (such as fracking,) paint or corrosion from pipes and plumbing systems.
In many cases, ironically, the toxins enter the well water supply as a direct result of the homeowner or their immediate neighbors. The very nature of a well, as an area of the ground that draws in water, means that it lends itself to potential contamination. This means that if you or any of your neighbors are using pesticides, herbicides or any other toxic agents or materials, it is likely you are contaminating your very own water! Additionally, if there is even the smallest crack in a septic tank nearby, it will allow pathogenic organisms to infiltrate your well water supply as well.
What To Do to Ensure Your Water is Truly Safe?
Since many potentially harmful toxins do not alter the aesthetic appearance or taste of your water, it is important that you ensure that your well water is tested on a regular basis. Property owners should have their well water tested at least once every year.
It is also wise to test your water frequently if you are near agricultural areas, there are known contamination or pollution issues or there have been problems near your well, such as land disturbances, flooding or nearby industry and waste disposal. You should also test the water if you repair or replace any component of your well system.
It goes without saying that if you notice any changes in the color, taste or odor in your drinking water, you should immediately have it tested.
Another consideration for protecting your household from potential toxins found in your well water, is to install a domestic water treatment system. Many of these systems are able to eliminate virtually 100% of any toxins and contaminants from well water supplies. This includes bacteria, disease causing microorganisms, waterborne viruses or harmful elements such as lead, arsenic or nitrate. These systems are available as under counter devices, such as an R.O. or whole house systems, allowing you to ensure that your drinking water is clean and safe for the whole family.