submitted by Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit celebrated World Water Day on March 22, 2023. In Ontario, we are fortunate to have an abundance of drinking water; however, we cannot assume that all drinking water sources are safe. Our municipal partners take good care of our municipal drinking water systems; however, if your drinking water comes from a private well, it’s up to you to protect and test your water supply.
Spring is a good time to have your well water tested for bacteria. Run off from heavy rain and snow melting may affect the safety of your drinking water. Bacteria in your well water may not affect the taste or smell of your water. Testing your well water is the only way to know for sure if your drinking water is safe to consume or if it is contaminated with bacteria and requires some actions to protect the health of your family. The Health Unit recommends that you test your well water at least three times a year, or after any weather events such as flooding that may affect the safety of your drinking water.
Thawing of snow and ice combined with spring rains may cause localized flooding on some properties. Flood water and water ponding around wells can affect the safety of your drinking water. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health Unit is advising those whose wells are directly affected by these conditions to boil their water for one minute at a rolling boil before drinking the water, or use an alternate safe source until you test your water and confirm that it is safe to drink.
A few tips to keep in mind if your property is prone to flooding:
- Monitor weather and take warnings seriously.
- Monitor your local conservation authority website and alerts for localized flooding risks.
- Ensure drainage ditches, etc. around your home are clear and can function during periods of heavy rain.
- Label the shut off valves and the direction to turn off the gas, water, power, etc. If you must leave your home due to rising flood waters, turn off the power, gas, etc.
- Maintain your home to keep water out.
- Move items likely to be affected by a flood water to higher areas where possible.
Ensure chemicals, cleaners; gas cans, etc. are stored in such a manner as not to contaminate flood water.
Ensure you have a supply of fuel for generators and pumps in the event of power outage. Store fuel in a manner so as not to contaminate flood water.
Have an emergency kit stocked; be sure to include important documents, cash, safe drinking water, food and medication.
If your septic system has been affected by flood water, limit water usage by taking quick showers rather than baths, avoid using the dishwasher, garbage disposal and washing machine and flush your toilets only when necessary. Ensure your basement sump pump is not going into the septic system.
Do not pump out your septic tank when the soil around the tank or the leaching bed is still saturated with water. High ground water levels may cause an empty septic tank to float and break out of the ground, and damage the tank and connecting plumbing. Properly maintaining your sewage system can help prevent ground water contamination and keep your well water safe for drinking. With regular care and maintenance, a properly installed sewage system should provide many years of service.
Visit the Well Water Sampling and section of our website for drinking water information including: where you can pick up and drop off your free water bottle samples; how to take a sample; how to disinfect your well (if required). For more information, call us at 1-800-660-5853 or connect with us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LGLHealthUnit. We are also now on Instagram @lglhealthunit.z For more information about emergency preparedness please visit https://healthunit.org/health-information/emergency-preparedness/.