Drinking groundwater and well water safety
Learn about the possible health risks for drinking groundwater and well water and how to prevent illness.
Possible health risks of drinking groundwater and well water
Typically, groundwater is naturally clean and safe to drink. Because the soil on top acts as a filter, groundwater is usually free of micro-organisms that may cause disease. However, groundwater can become contaminated if the casings or caps for wells are not installed in the correct way.
Health effects that come from drinking contaminated water include:
- Gastro-intestinal infections
- Nausea and vomiting
How to prevent illness from drinking groundwater and well water
In order to prevent illness, people who use well water should maintain their well properly and test their well water regularly.
- Check the well cap regularly to ensure that it is securely in place and watertight.
- Run the cold water tap for a few minutes each morning or when the system has not been used for a number of hours.
- Use only cold tap water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula, since hot water may contain toxic metals such as lead. Hot water will more easily dissolve contaminants and hot water often can sit for long periods of time in your hot water tank and pipes.
- During boil-water advisories or boil-water orders, you should bring your water to a rolling boil for a full minute. Do this for all water you use for drinking, cooking, making beverages and ice cubes, washing fruits and vegetables or brushing your teeth.
- Have your well tested at least once a year for the presence of coliforms. You may not be able to see, smell or taste these contaminants, but they could still be there.
- Have your well water tested occasionally for possible inorganic and organic chemical contaminants.
- The best times to sample your well water are:
- in early spring just after the thaw
- after a long dry spell
- following heavy rains
- when you start to use the well again after not using it for a long time