April 7, 2008
Media Release

Flood water safety for residents serviced by a private well

NEWMARKET The Regional Municipality of York public health branch encourages residents who receive their water from a private well to take additional precautions during and after a flood.
During a flood, water leaves the normal course of streambeds and washes over the countryside.  The floodwaters can come in contact with farmyards, manure piles, refuse heaps, outhouses, overflowing septic systems and other sources, resulting in heavy contamination of the water.  The contaminated water can make people sick. 
Residents who receive their water from a well should assume that private wells that have lost pressure or have been flooded are contaminated and the water is unsafe to use or consume.
Wells may also be contaminated with chemicals from the flood waters and therefore boiling is not recommended as a means of preparing safe drinking water.
Water in flooded or contaminated wells should be tested and found to be safe before it is consumed.  In the interim, use bottled or stored water for cooking and drinking.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care offers bacteriological testing, free of charge to owners of single family dwellings serviced by a private well. 
York Region residents can obtain free bottles for private well water collection at the following locations during regular business hours:
The Tannery Mall
Suite 240, 465 Davis Drive, Town of Newmarket
South Services Centre
2nd Floor, 50 High Tech Road, Town of Richmond Hill
York Region Community and Health Services, Markham Office
Suite B6-9, 4261 Hwy. 7 East, Town of Markham
Georgina Civic Centre
26557 Civic Centre Road, Town of Georgina
Residents concerned about potential chemical contamination of the water are advised to consult with a private lab for testing.  A complete listing of Ministry licensed laboratories can be found at http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/water/sdwa/licensedlabs.php 
Public health inspectors are available to assist in the interpretation of the well water results and can offer advice on well disinfection, treatment and maintenance.  Residents can speak with a public health inspector by calling the York Region Health Connection information line.

In addition to testing well water, private well owners should inspect their well after a flood to ensure it is free from damage and all components are in good working condition.
During a flood, residents on municipal or "town" water are encouraged to listen to public service announcements about the safety of municipal water supplies.
Residents who receive their water from a municipal source do not need to test their water.  Municipal water is routinely tested by the Region and the local municipality.  Water samples submitted by residents from a municipal supply will not be analysed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Laboratory. Test results can be obtained from your local municipality.
For more information on this or any other health-related topic, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Health Educator - Media,
 Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell (905) 716-2717
 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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