Out of sight, out of mind. Unfortunately, when it comes to groundwater, that saying can have dangerous consequences. Up to 75 per cent of drinking water in Waterloo Region comes from the ground, and only about one-quarter of all well owners remember to test their well water at least three times per year as recommended by the province.
Groundwater contamination is also something that residents of Elmira and St. Jacobs are familiar with after area aquifers became contaminated with chemicals from the Uniroyal (now Chemtura) plant, requiring water to be pumped in from Waterloo since 1992.
It is with that in mind that the Waterloo-based Residential Energy Efficiency Project is holding a pair of information workshops on its Well Aware program for rural, non-agricultural well owners.
The program is aimed at increasing homeowner education surrounding wells and well maintenance, and it includes an introduction to the Well Aware program, practical tips for water protection and well and septic maintenance, a free Well Aware kit with information about licensed well contractors and the importance of having your well tested, water sample bottles and the opportunity to register REEP’s free well check-up.
“This program really just continues REEP’s ongoing dedication to helping protect the environment through education,” said Susan Bryant, a certified water guide who will be leading the two workshops later this month.
“I’ve been doing this for about three years and I am just passionate about protecting our groundwater.”
She said that many homeowners just aren’t aware of the dangers and issues that can be associated with having a well improperly maintained. Over the course of one of her free visits, Bryant spends about 90 minutes inspecting the well and the cap and informing home owners about the importance of minimizing the sources of contamination within 50 and 100 feet of the well.
The visits are also voluntary, non-regulatory and confidential – which is a big selling point to well owners, she said.
“I think that is why the program is so popular, because we don’t report anything, we just make recommendations to the owner,” Bryant explained.
There are two scheduled Well Aware information workshops scheduled, the first is Sept. 20 at the Elmira Public Library from 7-8:30 p.m. and the second is on Sept. 28 at the Ayr Public Library, also from 7-8:30 p.m.
The sessions are free, though donations to REEP are welcome, and Bryant said there are also about 30 spots left for free well checkups this fall. For more information call REEP at (519) 744-9799 or visit www.reepgreen.ca.