Inspecting your well: A step-by-step checklist
It is important to prevent drinking water contamination in all water systems, including small systems. If you live in a First Nations community that uses wells with fewer than five connections, follow this step-by-step checklist on how to visually inspect your well.
1. Confirm which type of well you have
Depending on the water table depth and the nature of the soil in the area, you may have either a drilled well, a dug/bored well, or a sandpoint well.
- Draws water from deep groundwater aquifers
- Diameter: 10 to 20 centimetres
- Depth: more than 15 metres
- Draws water from shallow groundwater aquifers
- Diameter: 60 to 120 centimetres
- (Dug well) 3 to 9 metres
- (Bored well) 9 to 15 metres
- Draws water from shallow groundwater aquifers located in sandy area
- Diameter: 2.5 to 5 centimetres
- Depth: less than 3 metres
2. Around the well
To keep the area around the well clean:
- Remove all animal waste (from livestock and household pets).
- Relocate all pens, cages, or stalls where livestock and pets are kept.
- Relocate all chemical storage containers.
- Relocate all vehicles or equipment that may leak chemicals or fuel (e.g. lawn mowers and snow blowers).
- It is generally recommended to maintain a grassy area of at least 3 metres around the wellhead. Never use fertilizers or herbicides near your well.
- Mound up the ground around the well casing to keep water from pooling.
- Measure the well casing - it should extend 30 to 40 centimetres above the mound to reduce the risk of contamination. The well casing should never be buried.
- Compact the area around the outside of the well casing with clean fill if there is ground settling.
Keep a log of your inspections. As you complete each item on the checklist, make note of any signs of damage and needed repairs. Share this information with your Environmental Public Health Officer (EPHO) and Community-based Water Monitor (CBWM) as required. Ensure that repairs are completed quickly and note the date they are completed in your inspection log.
Contact your Community Health Centre to obtain contact information for your EPHO or CBWM.
3. The well cap
- Inspect the well cap to make sure it is not damaged or cracked. If it is, contact a licensed well contractor to have it replaced or repaired.
- Make sure your well has a vermin-proof cap. If it does not, contact a licensed well contractor.
Loose-fitting caps make wells a comfortable home for insects and vermin.
- Make sure your dug/bored well cap is built to keep out insects and vermin as much as possible.
- Make sure the cap is attached firmly to the casing.
- Make sure the vent is properly screened and is facing the ground. If not, contact a licensed well contractor for advice.
- Keep the well cap clear of snow, leaves, debris and other obstacles.
- Make sure the well cap sits on a casing that is above ground (30 to 40 cm) and exposed at all times.
Your well must be sealed to protect your well water from surface water and unwanted vermin.
4. Check the annular seal
- Ensure the annular seal sealant has not shrunk, collapsed or cracked. If it has, contact a licensed well contractor.
- Fill gaps around the annular seal with bentonite, cement grout or concrete.
The annular seal serves as a barrier to run-off surface water that could otherwise travel down the outside of the casing and contaminate the aquifer.
5. Check the well casing
- Make sure there is no damage, cracking, discolouration or rust on the outside of the well casing. If there is, contact a licensed well contractor for advice.
- If you have a dug well, remove the lid carefully. (It is not recommended to remove the lid to inspect the inside casing if you have a drilled well or a sandpoint well. A licensed well contractor can help if needed).
- Once the lid of the dug well is removed, listen for water seeping into the well and use a strong flashlight to inspect the inside casing.
- Look for holes or cracks in the casing. If any are found, contact a licensed well contractor for more information.
- Check for signs of insect infestation. If any are found, contact your EPHO and/or CBWM for more information. Never use chemicals and/or pesticides that could contaminate the groundwater.
- Look for leaking (stains) coming from casing joints. If any are found, contact a licensed well contractor for advice.
Rust on the well casing could leave holes near the ground surface where run-off can seep into the well and contaminate the groundwater.