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Lambton Public Health reminds residents to regularly test water wells

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For those who live in the city, clean water is something you may take for granted.

But families who get their water from a well have to check the quality of the water several times a year.

“We try to educate our private well owners each year about the importance of testing their wells. You know, their wells, they're responsible for them. So if they're not testing them on a regular basis, they have no idea if there's any issues going on with them,” explained Lori Lucas, health protection supervisor for Lambton Public Health.

The month of April typically sees heavy rainfall and sometimes flooding, and those high water levels can be a problem if the structural integrity of the well has been compromised.

“So if the well pipe itself maybe isn't sealed properly, like if there is some cracks along the top, that sort of thing with the potential for that water runoff...it could be agricultural runoff,” said Lucas.

Health units across Ontario offer free water testing services for well owners, but a passage in the Auditor General’s report from 2023 suggests cutting the free service gradually in the coming years.

"I would disagree with the Auditor General, and I assume they probably live in an urban area that doesn't require water testing. If they were in the country, they'd have a different outlook,” said Crispin Colvin, a director with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture for Lambton and Middlesex counties.

The cost of testing would then fall on the property owner, and according to Colvin could add up if multiple tests are required when a problem is found.

"It's not just the cost of $150 roughly, or whatever it may be at a private lab. But if people stop testing because they don't want to spend that extra $150, then families will get sick," he explained.

In 2023, more than 300 tests were done in Lambton County with 67 of them coming back adverse, multiple tests by the same owner are included in the results.

For the time being the process is quite simple, and according to Lucas kits are available at local health units.

“There's different sites that you can pick up your bottle locally and again with other public health units, take the sample, gives you instructions attached to the bottle itself on what to do,” she said.

Testing multiple times is necessary until a clean sample is repeated to avoid bacteria like E-coli from getting into the system.

Bacteria testing and water sampling kits are available for free. Pick-up and drop-off locations include:

  • Lambton Public Health, 160 Exmouth St., Point Edward — Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Friday: 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. — phone: 519-383-8331 or 1-800-667-1839
  • Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital, 450 Blanche St., Petrolia — Monday to Wednesday: 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. — phone: 519-882-4325

Rural residents may be closer to:

  • London Public Health Lab, 1200 Commissioners Rd. E. 

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