Well Maintenance & Water Testing
Well owners are responsible for the condition of their well and proper maintenance.
As your well ages, it may become damaged and allow harmful contaminants into your drinking water. Proper maintenance includes:
- ongoing observation of the state of the well, pump and other equipment
- keeping surface water or foreign materials from entering the well (e.g., making sure the well cap is securely in place)
- ensuring the minimum casing height, usually 40 cm, above the surface of the well is maintained
- preventing contamination of the well from things such as vehicles, manure, pet waste, pesticides, salt or fertilizer
- noticing changes in the appearance of the water such as colour, taste or odour, especially after a rainstorm or snow melt
- testing water quality at least three times a year
- ensuring your septic tank system works properly and is pumped regularly
- identifying abnormal sounds which could indicate wear on the well’s pump, waterlines, electrical cables and associated equipment
- verifying the pump’s efficiency – if the pump is continually running or losing pressure it may be a sign of a crack or hole in the waterlines
Check the directory of licensed well contractors before you get work done on your well.
Testing water from private wells is the responsibility of each well owner. To ensure your well water is safe to drink, Public Health Services recommends testing your well water at least three times each year for bacteria. About 24% of water samples from private residential wells and cisterns in Hamilton had unsafe levels of bacteria in 2012.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care provides free water testing for bacteria, including E.coli and total coliform, from private wells.
Testing kits available for pick up at Municipal Service Centres and the additional locations below.
- Municipal Service Centres are open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
- The Public Health Lab is open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4 pm.
|Public Health Lab - 250 Fennell Avenue West, Hamilton||Yes||Yes||Year-round|
|97 General Store - 1817 Regional Road 97, Valens||Yes||No||Year-round|
|Carlisle Post Office - Centre Road, Carlisle||Yes||No||Year-round|
|Rockton Berry Farm - 621 Highway 8, Rockton||Yes||No||Seasonal|
|Lynden Post Office - 94 Lynden Road, Lynden||Yes||No||Year-round|
|Highland Country Markets - 432 Highland Road East, Stoney Creek||Yes||No||Year-round|
Use the sample bottle provided by the Ministry to collect a water sample. Follow the instructions that come with the bottle closely for accurate results
Bring your water sample to the Public Health Lab located at 250 Fennell Avenue West, Hamilton, within 12 hours of collecting it from your well. Keep the water sample cool while you bring it in for testing. Sample freshness is essential for accurate tests.
Complete the form provided in the test kit so results can be mailed to you or write down the number below the bar code on the bottle so you can call in to get test results later.
The Public Health Lab cannot accept water samples from untreated surface water such as lakes, streams and ponds.
Wait for your water test results. If you completed the form provided in the testing kit, your water test results are mailed to your home. Otherwise, follow the instructions on the blue card enclosed with your testing kit to get your test results from the automated telephone system.
Well water test results
Private Citizen Drinking Water Report Pick Up:
- Clients may follow the request for records posted on the PHO website to receive a copy of their report by e-mail.
- If the client ticked the “I will pick up report at the laboratory” box on the requisition, the test report will be mailed to the submitter’s mailing address that appeared on the form.
- Private Citizen Drinking Water Sample Drop Off / Collection Kit Pick Up:
- Regional laboratory sites: Designated refrigerator/cooler with ice packs have been made available to clients away from the laboratory area and staff (e.g., lobby/vestibule). Touch surfaces will be cleaned/disinfected often.
You will get your well water test results by mail if you completed the form in the testing kit or you can follow instructions on the blue card enclosed with your testing kit to get test results from the automated telephone system.
How often to test well water
If you have not tested water from your well for over a year, we recommend you test it immediately:
- Follow instructions above for how to test well water, but take three water samples at least one week apart.
- If you have water treatment devices attached to your plumbing, you may choose to submit two drinking water samples: one from a tap used for drinking water and the other sample from a location prior to treatment. This helps determine the level of bacteria not only in your tap water but also in your well.
After the initial testing, we recommend you test your well at least three times during the year:
- immediately after the snow melts in spring
- in the middle of summer
- in the fall
The quality of your well may vary throughout the year, especially during periods of heavy rain.