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Protecting Private Wells Mary Jane Conboy Well Wise Resource Centre

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1 Protecting Private Wells Mary Jane Conboy Well Wise Resource Centre

2 750,000 registered wells in Ontario. Approximately 1.5 million abandoned wells. 10,000 - 20,000 new wells drilled per year. Majority are drilled wells (58%-71%). 89% of wells observed in home visits need a repair. Generally, groundwater is clean, reliable and sustainable supply.


4 The Life Cycle Approach

5 Emerging Threats The Expert panel looking at private wells considered a number of potential threats and suggested ways to manage different problems. Wells that are not maintained, not tested and abandoned are the biggest concern for sustainable wells in Ontario. Private wells represent a pathway for contaminants to reach aquifers, and must be considered in source protection.

6 Needs Assessment Year Long study 400 Online Survey Participants 346 Post Card Surveys 6 focus groups

7 Professional % Well technician % Owner % lack of awareness888353 financial burden or cost 858852 Availability of Well contractors ( not enough) 221214 Barriers to Well Maintenance Other barriers --poor advice from neighbours or unqualified professionals and trust issues

8 Older, vulnerable design

9 Bad well locations

10 Common problems- well owners

11 Test your Well Water Quality 1950 - 1954 484 wells sampled 14% high for nitrate 15% high for bacteria 1991 -1992 1200 wells sampled 14% high for nitrate 34 % high for bacteria 6 wells exceeded for pesticides OFA Rural Water Quality testing program – Bacteria, nitrate and sodium are the most commonly observed health related parameters exceeding ODWS

12 Keep the well water tight and watch activities around the well.

13 Making Everyone Well Aware High Risk versus Low Risk geology

14 Finished above grade, sealants and soil tapered away from well

15 Well Decommissioning Abandoned wells are direct avenues to aquifers. Improperly retired wells can increase the risk of contamination entering your well. A well that has been decommissioned should not impact the future use of that land. Vertical migration of fluids must be blocked.

16 Decommissioning

17 Old well is now filled with proper sealants.

18 The tremie pipe displaces the water column from the base of the well.

19 Decommissioning drilled well – well casing is cut off 4 – 6 feet below ground and filled with hole plug.

20 Well pit is removed. The area is backfilled and graded.

21 Solutions – from Needs Assessment Education and easy access to information was identified as the best way to help well owners maintain their wells (Owners (44%), Professionals (60%), Well technicians (44%)). Regular and free water testing (Owners (18), Professionals (11%) and Well technicians(2%) and Funding for well work (Owners (14%), Professionals (29%) and Well technicians (25%).

22 Funding Programs Raise Awareness Spark Action to address problem wells. Needs Assessment participants indicated that the greater the level of funding, the more likely that wells will be decommissioned. Programs need to be available across the province.


24 Well Wise Province-wide Water Testing Available to any well owner 5 different water testing packages 6 Soil Testing packages Working with Agri-food and Maxxam labs Brochures distributed through health units, conservation authorities, Well Aware field staff, and other locations (35 000 since May). Well Wise water testing program replaces OFA testing program.

25 Guided Self Assessment 89% of the wells were in need of repair. Only 1/3 test their water regularly for bacteria 90% never test beyond bacteria 20% had a well needing to be decommissioned Half of the participants needed to pump their septic tank.

26 Water Well Identification in Rural Areas Volunteers Wanted! A sign marking the location of your well reminds anyone around it that this is an important location and encourages proper environmental practices. Staff will install sign and check your well. Participants are provided with a resource package and short report about your well. Information and assistance with water testing is provided. Your well is important for your family and farm. For more information or to volunteer visit : or call

27 Childrens program 2- hour program that is aimed at primary students Classrooms and attend groundwater festivals Books, stickers, tattoos Messy hands on crafts, demonstrations and activity sheets Delivery in Durham and Oxford. Will expand to other areas of the province with time.

28 Virtual Resource Centre

29 Questions? Thank you. For Further information visit our booth at the festival Mary Jane Conboy Well Wise Resource Centre 5331 Main St. Orono, Ontario L0B 1M0, 905-983-9911

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