November 9, 2019
RWW hosted their first Healthy Wells Workshop at the Musquodoboit Library on November 9th. With over 50 community members in attendance, the session was a great success! Fred Bonner, RWW President, and Elizabeth Montgomery, RWW Executive Director, presented information on protecting well water quality and quantity. The main take-away message was, “Get Your Water Tested”.
The workshop started with a review of the different types of wells, their construction, and components commonly used in Nova Scotia. Common well water issues in dug and drilled wells were discussed at length. Drilled wells generally provide better protection from bacterial contamination associated with surface water entering the well, but usually are more costly to install, and may have higher incidences of metals in the well water. Dug wells are less costly, easier to clean, and water is generally less susceptible to metal contamination, but these wells are more prone to going dry in times of drought, and more susceptible to bacterial contamination from surface contaminants. To further explain the pros and cons of different well types, the influence of the underlying geology on water quality, the role of well maintenance, and the potential impact of climate change on water security was discussed.
After discussing wells and water issues, the next part of the workshop focused on how to take a water sample properly, where to pick up bottles to collect samples, and what a homeowner should analyze for - based on guidelines set out by Nova Scotia Environment. Wells should be tested every six months for bacteria, and every two years for metals. A number of people asked about the timing of sampling. It was noted that individual cases may warrant more frequent sampling. A demonstration on how to sample was also presented. Attendees learned how to remove faucet screen filters and how to disconnect a gooseneck faucet to sanitize the fixture and collect a proper sample.
It wasn't just the coffee and cookies from Dobbit Bakehouse that drew people to the workshop: engaged participants asked questions throughout the entire two hour-long workshop. In particular, lead in drinking water was on top of people’s minds. The audience learned there are very few places in Nova Scotia where lead is naturally occurring in the groundwater. Lead in water is mainly caused by lead leaching from water pipes or solder historically used in plumbing. They also learned that in Nova Scotia, some areas have corrosive water, which can make the leaching of lead even worse.
There was a high level of interest in what a properly constructed dug well should look like and how to handle a variety of contaminants. People learned about evaluating the condition of their wells and proper maintenance. As the workshop came to a close, many more questions were brought forward and the team stayed back to answer as many questions as possible.
RWW would like to thank the Musquodoboit Harbour Public Library for hosting this event and our friends at Eastern Shore Forest Watch for their support.