March 19, 2008
Media Release

York Region reminds residents to put wells to the test

Residents are advised to test private well water in the spring, summer and fall
NEWMARKET – With the official arrival of spring just days away, The Regional Municipality of York public health branch reminds home and cottage owners to test their private well water.  Residents should put wells to the test three times a year in the spring, summer and fall. 
Above average runoff, melting snow and increased amounts of rainfall can create potential for flooding during the spring months.  Flooding and heavy rain can cause contamination of private well water.  Well water from a flooded area should be tested for quality and found to be safe before consumption.  Well water should also be tested if the well has been dormant, had any repairs or if there is a change in water appearance, colour or odour.
Well water tests measure the presence of both total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the water.  Coliform and E. coli are both indicators of bacterial contamination.  Higher levels of these bacteria may make the water unsafe to use and drink.  Symptoms from consuming water that contains higher levels of these bacteria may include stomach cramping, diarrhea and other complications. 
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care offers private well water testing, free of charge to owners of single family dwellings serviced by a private well.  Public health inspectors are also available to assist in the interpretation of well water results and can offer advice on well disinfection, treatment and maintenance.  Residents can speak with a public health inspector by calling York Region Health Connection
at 1-800-361-5653.
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 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.
In addition to testing well water, private well owners should inspect their well annually to ensure it is free from damage and all components are in good working condition. 
These tips and resources can help keep your private well and well water safe:
• When doing repairs to your well, take the time to ensure it meets regulation standards.  For more information on well construction, visit the Ministry of the Environment website at
• A well assessment and certified well guide are available through the Windfall Ecology Centre’s Well Aware Program at no cost.  This program assists homeowners in assessing their well and factors influencing the quality and quantity of their well water.  For more information, to book your free well assessment or obtain your free guide, please visit
• If a well is beyond repair or no longer in use, it should be properly decommissioned by a licensed well contractor.  The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority may provide assistance for decommissioning of a well.  To learn more about the Lake Simcoe Water Quality Improvement Program, please visit
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell 905 716-2717

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