Finding a source of potable water is one of the primary concerns for any rural resident. Around Mississippi Lake these means either extracting water directly from the lake or using an underground water source.
A well is the most common way to obtain groundwater for household use. A well is basically a hole in the ground, held open by a pipe (or casing) that extends to an aquifer. A pump draws water from the aquifer for distribution through the plumbing system. The depth to which wells are constructed is determined by factors such as 1) depth to groundwater, 2) the groundwater quality, and 3) the geologic conditions at the well site.
Where does our water come from?
Hydrogeology - Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water in the Mississippi River Watershed. Approximately 75% of watershed residents draw their drinking water from individual private wells. Groundwater is also used for commercial, agricultural and industrial operations, and plays a vital ecological role in providing baseflow to streams and supporting water levels in lakes and many wetlands.
Aquifers and Aquitards - An aquifer is a water-bearing geologic unit that can supply groundwater in usable quantities to wells. An aquitard is a geologic unit having a low capability to supply water to wells.
For a full background on the Physical Environment of the Mississippi Watershed and learn about how water gets to you check out the the MVCA's Backgrounder to the Watershed Plan
Types of Wells
There are three types of private drinking water wells.
Dug/Bored wells are holes in the ground dug by shovel or backhoe. They are lined (cased) with stones, brick, tile, or other material to prevent collapse. Dug wells have a large diameter, are shallow (approximately 10 to 30 feet deep) and are not cased continuously.
Driven wells are constructed by driving pipe into the ground. Driven wells are cased continuously and shallow (approximately 30 to 50 feet deep). Though driven wells are cased, they can be contaminated easily because they draw water from aquifers near the surface. These wells draw water from aquifers near the surface.
Drilled wells are constructed by percussion or rotary-drilling machines. Drilled wells can be thousands of feet deep and require the installation of casing. Drilled wells have a lower risk of contamination due to their depth and use of continuous casing.
Drinking Water Safety
Whether you draw you water direct from the lake, tap into ground water using a sand point system or reaching into an aquifer with a drilled/driven well. As a private well owner, it is your job to be well aware – to understand the basics of well maintenance and operation, and to take the necessary actions to keep your water wells in safe running order.
If you live in a rural area and you have a well on your property you can have your well water tested for free through the Health Unit. Here is a list of several locations where you can pick up and drop of well water sample bottles. Public Health Inspectors will help you understand your drinking water sample results and provide you advice on how to fix the problem. The Health Unit well water sampling program tests for bacteria, testing for minerals and chemicals can be done through a private lab.
Keep up to date with local drinking water issues on the Leeds Grenville & Lanark Health Unit Site
As a well owner, you want your water to be clean, clear and safe for your family to drink. Your water may look clean and clear, but how can you be confident that it is safe?
While regular testing is important, you can prevent problems and protect the quality of your well water through proper maintenance. As a private well owner, it is your job to understand the basics of well maintenance and operation, and to take the necessary actions to keep your water wells in safe running order.
The Well Aware site provides an excellent guide to the basics you need to know about wells and their maintenance.
And don't forget that old wells must be properly abandoned; plugged and sealed in a process called decommissioning. Just filling the well with debris or stones does not create a proper seal and will not prevent the flow of contaminated runoff or surface water into the well and from there into our groundwater supplies. In Ontario, wells that are not used or maintained for future use, are legally required by the Ministry of the Environment to be decommissioned by the well owner. So, if you have an old well on your property that won’t be used again, you must have it properly sealed as soon as possible. If you have a well that you’re not using now, but might use in the future, you must maintain it like any other working well. Protecting our groundwater is everyone’s responsibility.
For information and rules for residential well owners for the proper location, construction, maintenance and abandonment of a well check this Ontario Government Site.
Check out this site if you are trying to locate a well