How To Protect Your Drinking Water

Hand holding glass of water.

Learn Sources of Contamination

As extreme weather events become more common, so does the risk of drinking water contamination, especially for private well owners. Heavy rainfall can flush contaminants like animal waste and road salt into drinking water sources underground. Old or poorly maintained wells are especially vulnerable.

Here are a few common sources of contamination to look out for:

  • Bacteria — Bacteria are highly concentrated in human and animal waste. Stormwater runoff or leakage from nearby septic systems can contaminate drinking water by washing bacteria into well systems. Ingestion of harmful bacteria like E. Coli or salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, nausea, headaches, or fever. Regular well water testing can help detect if bacteria are present.
  • Nitrate — Colourless, odourless and tasteless, nitrate naturally occurs in our environment but can pose a problem if consumed in excess. High levels of nitrate in water can be a result of runoff or leakage from fertilized soil, wastewater, or septic systems. Nitrate toxicity can affect how our blood carries oxygen and is particularly harmful to infants. The only way to determine nitrate levels is through well water testing.
  • Sodium — Sodium contamination is often caused by road salt (sodium chloride) runoff. High sodium in well water can be a concern for those with health issues like hypertension. High sodium levels can also cause plumbing corrosion problems and an unpleasant taste. Wells near roadways are especially vulnerable.

To protect yourself, your family and your community from these and other contaminants, it’s important to ensure your well is maintained, your water is tested regularly and potential sources of contamination are kept away from your well.

For tips on how to reduce the risk to your drinking water, watch our new step-by-step video on how to access your well record, register for our upcoming webinar, or check out Ontario’s best practices guide for protecting drinking water sources.

If you’re interested in how CVC can help you assess, upgrade or improve your well, contact a stewardship coordinator to get started.

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