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Drinking Water


Surface water source

Surface water is any source of water that is open to the atmosphere and is subject to runoff from the land. This includes lakes, streams, rivers, ponds and springs. Because these sources are open to the environment and subject to runoff, it is likely that the water will contain micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause illness.

We do not recommend that surface water be consumed unless it is treated through proper filtration and a disinfection system.

Drilled well

A drilled well consists of a hole bored into the ground with the upper part being lined with casing. The casing protects the groundwater source, provides a housing for the pumping mechanism and for the pipe that moves the water from the pump to the surface. Most drilled wells reach deep aquifers; therefore they have a lower risk of contamination and have a more constant temperature. However, they are more vulnerable to deep aquifer contaminants (for example from salt) and can have poorer natural water quality.

Dug well

A dug well is a hole in the ground dug by a shovel or backhoe. A dug well is excavated below the groundwater table until incoming water exceeds the digger's bailing rate. The well is cased with concrete casing to prevent collapse and then covered with a concrete cap. Dug wells are not very deep, typically reaching only 10 to 30 feet below ground. Being shallow, dug wells have a higher risk of contamination.

Well point

A well point, also called a sand point or driven-point well, is a small diameter well made with steel pipes that are threaded together with a well screen at the end, which is usually 2 - 3 feet long. The purpose of the screen is to allow groundwater to follow into the well but keep the surrounding sand out. Because these wells access a shallow water table, they tend to have limited yield and possible water shortages in dry periods. Well points are also more vulnerable to near-surface contamination.

Well disinfection

  • You should disinfect your well when:
  • your well is contaminated
  • after a flood
  • a new well is installed
  • the well of pump is serviced

To find out how to disinfect your well properly, use the well disinfection tool developed by Public Health Ontario.

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