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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
top of concrete dug well

Well Water

Although public-facing services are currently suspended at HPEPH offices, residential well water test bottles can be dropped off for testing at one of locations listed in Public Water Sample Bottle Drop-off Locations document.

Many residents rely on drilled, dug, or bored wells to supply water for drinking and other household uses. Groundwater is a shared resource that crosses property lines, and contamination from one well can put other wells at risk. To protect yourself and others, be sure to test your well water for bacterial contamination.

It is the homeowner’s responsibility to test their drinking water to ensure it is safe. Homeowners are encouraged to test as often as needed (bacteriological tests are free), and it is recommended to do so at least seasonally. Homeowners should also test well water any time issues are experienced with quality or quantity (e.g. flooding or drought).

If a chemical problem is suspected, these specific tests can be completed through a licensed private lab, for a fee.

Testing Your Well Water

  1. Pick-up a free water sample bottle from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
  2. Remove any aerator, screen or other attachments from your faucet. Do not take a sample from an outside faucet or garden hose.
  3. Disinfect the end of the faucet with an alcohol swab or dilute bleach solution (1-part household bleach to 10 parts water).
  4. Turn on cold water and let it run for two to three minutes to remove standing water from your plumbing system.
  5. Remove the sample bottle lid. Do not touch the inside of lid. Do not put the lid down. Do not rinse out bottle.
  6. Fill the bottle to the fill line marked on the bottle and close the lid firmly.
  7. Keep the sample cool (but not frozen) until it is returned to Hastings Prince Edward Public Health. Please remember to complete the bottle’s attached form and deliver the sample on the same day it was collected.

Understanding Your Test Results

  • Total Coliformthese bacteria are always present in animal waste and sewage but are also found in soil and on vegetation. The presence of these bacteria may indicate that surface water is entering your well.
  • Escherichia coli (E. Coli)these bacteria are found only in the digestive systems of people and animals. Their presence in your well water is usually the result of contamination from nearby human or animal waste.
Total Coliform E. Coli What it means
0 0 SAFE for drinking
1 – 5 0 Three samples with these results, collected 1 to 3 weeks apart, indicate water is SAFE for drinking
>6 0 UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated
1 to >80 UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated
Estimated (Est) UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated
Overgrown (O/G) UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated

If your well water continues to test positive for bacteria you may wish to consult a Disinfection Instruction Sheet, or contact Healthy Environments at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 677 for guidance.

Pregnancy, Young Infants and Well Water

Well water safety is especially important if you have an infant under 6 months of age at home. Nitrate, which is a salt-like substance, is present in the environment and sometimes found in well water. You are in a susceptible location for nitrates if near sources of animal waste run-off, fertilizers, or seepage of human sewage from private septic systems.

Babies do not have the ability to properly digest nitrates and may get a condition called “blue baby syndrome” (methemoglobinemia), where they turn blue because of a lack of oxygen. Women who are pregnant should also avoid drinking water high in nitrates.

Testing for nitrates can be completed through a licensed lab. If the nitrate levels in your well water are too high (10 mg/L or more) you should use another source of water for preparing food/formula for your baby (e.g. municipal water or bottled water). It is important to note that boiling water does not remove nitrates.

Other Resources:

Need More Information About Well Water?

Call Healthy Environments at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 677.

News, Research and Reports RELATED TO: Drinking Water, Household Health, Water Safety

Application Deadline Extended for Local Radon Study

PUBLISHED: Monday November 18, 2019

Well Water Warning Due to Flooding

PUBLISHED: Friday May 3, 2019

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We are gradually resuming in-person services at HPEPH by appointment only at this time.  Please review our Service Interruptions page for more information.

All program lines and the COVID-19 information line operate Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (excluding statutory holidays).

To assist us with our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, we ask anyone visiting the office for an appointment to:

  • bring a non-medical mask, physical distancing may not be possible during your appointment
  • maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres, both inside and outside the office
  • review symptoms of COVID-19, and reschedule your appointment if you have symptoms of the virus, or any other illness
  • reschedule your appointment if a family member or other close contact is ill
  • use accessible buttons to open doors, instead of handles
  • use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting the building

We have made additional changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are visiting our office for an appointment, you can be confident that we are:

  • increasing our cleaning, in alignment with heightened infection control protocols
  • considering alternatives to in-person appointments and meetings when possible
  • screening staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19
  • offering in-person services by appointment only to reduce traffic in office
  • ensuring staff wear masks and/or other protective equipment when seeing clients

Please continue to our website for more information about our programs and services.