Groundwater is an essential and vital resource for about a quarter of all Canadians. It is their sole source of water for drinking and washing, for farming and manufacturing, for all their daily water needs. Yet for the majority of Canadians- those who do not depend on it - groundwater is a hidden resource whose value is not well understood or appreciated.
Our image of Canada is of a land of sparkling lakes rivers and glaciers. Groundwater, which exists everywhere under the surface of the land, is not part of this picture. Not surprisingly, concerns of Canadians about water quality focus primarily on surface waters- our lakes and rivers. The less visible but equally important, groundwater resources have received less public attention, except in regions of Canada where people depend on them.
WATER TALK Q/A
What is an aquifer?
Although groundwater exists everywhere under the ground, some parts of the saturated zone contain more water than others. An aquifer is an underground formation of permeable rock or loose material which can produce useful quantities of water when trapped by a well. Aquifers come in all sizes. They may be small, only a few hectares in area, or very large, underlying thousands of square kilometers of the earth's
What is groundwater?
It is sometimes thought that water flows through underground rivers or that it collects in underground lakes. Groundwater is not confined to only a few channels or depressions in the same way the surface water is concentrated in streams and lakes. Rather, it exists almost everywhere underground. It is found underground in the spaces between particles of rock and soil, or in crevices and cracks in rock. The water filling these opening is usually within 100 meters of the surface. Much of the earth's fresh water is found in these spaces. At greater depths, because of the weight of overlying rock, these openings are much smaller, and therefore hold considerably smaller quantities of water.
Groundwater flows slowly through water-bearing formations (aquifer) at different rates. In some places, where groundwater has dissolved limestone to form caverns and large openings, its rate of flow can be relatively fast but this is exceptional.
How do I choose a location for my well?
The area must be relatively easy to access and should be reasonably flat. Higher elevations are preferred to decrease the potential for contamination that is often associated with drainage. It is also important when selecting a location, to consider repair and maintenance of the well as it must be accessible over time.
There are also provincially defined restrictions that must be followed, stating minimum distances that must be maintained from certain objects.
- 50 ft from any septic tank or filter bed
- 5 ft from any property boundaries
- 20 ft from any road or public highway boundaries
- 6 ft from any building extensions
* Remember, well heads will be a minimum of one foot above finished grade, therefore they should be in a location away from snow plowing and not interfere with future plans for swimming pools, garages, etc.
How do I select a pump?
Can you tell how deep the well will be and how much it will produce?
Unfortunately there is no way to guarantee with absolute certainty how deep the well will be and how much water it will yield. Our extensive experience and knowledge of the local geology does allow us to make reasonable predictions though. Based on other wells in the area, we will be able to give a reasonable prediction and a free written estimate as to what is to be expected and what will be necessary to adequately satisfy your needs.
How much water is enough?
Water demands vary for all customers, but Nova Scotia Environment and Labour states that that the average adult uses approximately 50 to 75 gallons per day. Therefore a family of 4 would require a well to provide 200 to 300 gallons daily.
Typically a well that produces 6 gallons per minute will adequately satisfy an average sized home. When this yield is unavailable, drilling a well to a greater depth will compensate flow by providing a greater reservoir. The higher the static water level inside the well, the greater the storage. Therefore wells with flows of ½ gallon per minute or less can meet the demands required if enough reservoir is provided.
The pump should have adequate capacity for present and future uses. Generally, pump capacity is equal to or slightly less than the safe yield of the well so it will make use of the well's potential but not over pump it. A pump with a capacity greater than the safe yield will draw the water level down in the well too far, causing the system to pump air or lose its prime. Continued lowering of the water level by pumping may cause other difficulties in the well itself (decrease in yield cloudy water, sand in water). The pump should also provide adequate pressure for the present and future use, considering the possibility of a lower water level in the well. We will suggest a recommended pump size based upon your needs and circumstances.
Do I need to test my water, and if so how do I do it?
For most residential wells testing is not mandatory but it is highly recommended. Nova Scotia Environment and Labour recommend testing for bacteria every 6 months. Chemical quality should also be checked every 1 or 2 years. Frequent testing is beneficial not only for peace of mind, but it will also warn you if any corrective measures need to be taken to protect the integrity of your well, and also warns about any activities that may be impacting your supply. We do not conduct bacterial or chemistry tests, but instructions and sealed sampling bottles can be obtained from any local laboratories.
Source - Environment Canada