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Well water testing drop-off sites returning to Grey-Bruce

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For the past three years, there have been a lot fewer places to drop off your well water samples in Grey-Bruce.

“We know better than most, the importance of well water testing. Walkerton proved that you have to have good quality testing of your water, and make sure you have easy access to it,” says Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau.

Ontarians on well water, are encouraged to test the quality of their drinking water for things like E. coli, at least three times a year.

Public Health Ontario used to collect those water samples at local hospitals. But, that service ceased during the pandemic, and hasn’t resumed, leaving just a few temporary locations at grocery stores and municipal offices spread out across the vastness of Grey-Bruce.

“Recently we learned the temporary locations might not even be supported, so we saw the opportunity to step in, and take ownership of the issue,” says Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health with the Grey-Bruce Health Unit.

That ownership, rare for health unit’s to take on, will now involve a made in Grey-Bruce solution. The Grey-Bruce Health Unit will be setting up well water drop-off locations and a courier service, to ensure that no one in Grey-Bruce has to drive more than 30 minutes to find a well water testing drop-off site.

“The quality of one’s drinking water is paramount. As a medical officer of health, it will be very concerning for me if people are not able to test the quality of their drinking water from wells,” says Dr. Arra.

A testing bottle is being filled with water on March 9, 2023. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

Dr. Arra says the made in Grey-Bruce solution won’t cost municipalities anything, and will, by all accounts, be funded by the province, which is music to local mayors ears who have been pushing for a solution for several months.

“We need to have easy access to testing close to home for people in our community, and in communities across the region, so hopefully we’re getting to the point where we can re-establish that,” says Charbonneau.

The Grey-Bruce Health Unit says they’re working on securing drop-off sites, and the courier service in consultation with Grey-Bruce municipalities, to fill a void that’s been dangerously empty, since early 2020.

Well water testing drop off site in Owen Sound on March 9, 2023. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“Oh this is happening. Planning is underway, and implementation will be very soon,” says Dr. Arra.

There are currently seven places in Grey-Bruce to drop off well water samples, for testing at a lab in London. Grey-Bruce residents historically, send an average of 12,000 well water samples for testing, every year.

For the current list of water-well drop-off locations in Grey-Bruce visit the public health website.

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