Well water and septic health

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The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit can help you ensure that the well water you and your family drink is safe. 

Spring is a good time to have your well water tested for bacteria. Run off from heavy rain 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.

A possible source of well water contamination is a malfunctioning sewage disposal system. 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. However, here are some tips and common household products that residents should avoid disposing into their septic to ensure a well-functioning system. They include:

  • Fats, oils and grease;
  • Household chemicals such as vehicle fluids, paints and solvents, caustic drain and harsh cleaners, bleach, pesticides;
  • Cat box litter;
  • Tampons, sanitary napkins, diapers, paper towels, condoms;
  • Coffee grounds, egg shells and other kitchen waste;
  • Excess water from roof drains, sump water, water from softeners and iron filters;
  • Driving over the leaching bed with motorized vehicles should be avoided

Excessive water use in your home could impact your sewage disposal system by flushing solids from the septic tank into the leaching bed.  Conserve water by spreading your laundry out over the week rather than doing several loads in one day; fix running toilets and leaking faucets and minimize the length of time in the shower. 

The septic tank should be inspected at regular intervals and pumped out whenever sludge and scum occupy one-third of the working capacity of the tank. Septic tanks contain deadly gases and should only be inspected by firms specializing in this work.

The area over a leaching bed should have a good cover of grass allowing for adequate sunlight and ventilation to be maintained. Avoid planting shrubs and trees over this area.

Visit the Well Water Sampling 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.

 

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