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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

Reports & Publications - Newsletters

Monthly Board Report - March 2001


Health Unit Responds to Private Drinking Water Concerns

By Jennifer Bricker, Public Health Inspector

When the public contacts the Health Unit with concerns about drinking water quality of their own private water supply system, it is the public health inspector’s duty to respond promptly and determine if the concerns are of human health significance. An initial assessment is always made in order to determine if there is a direct affect on health caused by bacterial or chemical contamination or if it is simply an aesthetic concern, such as a high iron or calcium content.

On aesthetic concerns, inspectors may give helpful advice on treatment options or refer the homeowner to a more appropriate agency. On concerns of health significance, we conduct an initial assessment as follows:

  • Identify and explain results of samples taken by the owner

  • History of sampling frequency

  • Identify the location and construction of the well

  • Assess potential sources of contamination

  • Assess concerns of related illness in the family

With this information we will then determine the most appropriate advice to give to the homeowner to ensure that their drinking water meets the Ontario Drinking Water Standards. The advice may include:

  • Disinfecting the well with chlorine or other appropriate disinfectant

  • Advising client to boil water until further sampling confirms safety

  • Advising client not to drink the water unless treated

  • Making repairs to the well and surrounding landscaping

  • Installation of disinfecting devices such as ultra-violet light or chlorinator systems or

  • Drilling a new well

Every situation is unique and presents its own new challenges to the inspector. Most inquiries are dealt with on the telephone however site visits are made in unusual or complicated cases.



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