Category Archives: Wells

Well Water Testing Day November 7th 2019 October 18th, 2019

Posted in: General Water Quality Testing Wells

Well testing days 2019 April 3rd, 2019

Posted in: Wells

Dealing with Abandoned Wells February 5th, 2019

Posted in: Watershed Moments Wells

The RM of Taché sealed an abandoned well in Lorette with surprising results. Peter Skjaerlund, Manager of Public Works, says he inadvertently discovered an abandoned well in 2015 while on a site visit with the municipality’s then CAO, Dan Poersch. Both Peter and Dan noticed ponded water at a property located alongside the Seine River. They observed that the ponded water was disappearing into an unusual ground-level depression. That’s when Peter and Dan found an abandoned well filled with debris. The ponded water was draining into the old well casing and through the debris into the groundwater below.

Abandoned wells can be harmful to the quality of groundwater and drinking water supply. That’s because they can provide a direct path for contaminants and pollutants to enter the underground aquifers that supply water wells. Old unused wells can be hard to find. They may be buried under soil or hidden in long grass. Sometimes, the only evidence is a ground level depression or an old well casing. Permanently closing an abandoned or unused well involves sealing the well with grout to stop the upward flow of water through the well.

The RM of Taché sealed this abandoned well through the Seine-Rat Rat River Conservation District’s (SRRCD) Abandoned Well Sealing Program. The SRRCD funds 100% of the cost up to $2,000 for sealing old or unused wells. The abandoned well in the RM of Taché was subsequently sealed in fall 2015 with some unexpected benefits to the local water quality.

A nearby municipal well was showing the presence of total coliform bacteria at the time the abandoned well was sealed. Water quality testing results on the municipal well indicated that there was likely a source of total coliform in the area around or inside the well. The source remained a mystery until the water test results showed that total coliforms in the water began to disappear on its own.

Peter noticed that the water quality in the municipal well began to improve after the abandoned well was sealed. Peter dug a little deeper into this mystery and learned that the natural path of the groundwater flowed under the ground from the area of the abandoned well towards the direction of the municipal well. Surface water entering the groundwater through the abandoned well carried total coliform bacteria to the nearby municipal well.

The bacterial count in the municipal went down to zero total coliforms in a few short months after the abandoned well was sealed. The well continues to meet provincial standards for safe drinking water to this day. This successful abandoned well sealing project shows how easily contamination can enter our ground water supply. Water contaminated through abandoned wells can quickly spread to other drinking water sources and cause serious declines in water quality

Peter said, “Sealing the abandoned well was a huge improvement for us in water quality. It was exciting to see the bacterial results go down after we pinpointed the problem to the abandoned well.”

He also said, “We sometimes overlook the benefits of local programs when their outcomes become noticeable in the long-run. The result of this project became apparent soon after we sealed the problematic well. I encourage people to seal their abandoned wells because I saw firsthand how surface water can directly affect the quality of our groundwater and drinking water supply.”

The SRRCD is accepting Abandoned Well Sealing program applications. You can download an application today by visiting our website or contacting our office today.


Is all Well with your Well? February 8th, 2016

Posted in: Watershed Moments Wells

This post was submitted by Dorthea Grégoire and Alan Wiebe of the Seine-Rat River Conservation District

The importance of regular well water testing

The RM of Piney is home to some of the highest quality groundwater in Canada. Some companies have made it their business to bottle and sell this award-winning water. Although the quality of groundwater in southeast Manitoba is excellent, private well water can be the source of health problems if your well is not maintained properly.

Most residents in the southeast rely on private wells for their water. The best way to monitor the health of your well is to regularly test your water for bacteria. Some kinds of bacteria can cause gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, and poor digestion. These ailments can be harmful for young children; the elderly; people with compromised immune systems; or those undergoing intensive medical treatments, like chemotherapy, radiation, or organ transplant. Exposure to these bacteria can also weaken the immune systems of healthy people, and make them more susceptible to other illnesses, like the common cold or flu.

The Province of Manitoba recommends that you test your water every spring after the snow melt, or after any flooding events. Testing for E. coli and total coliform bacteria is important during this time because surface water runoff and flooding can carry contaminants directly into your well.

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) can help you get your well water tested throughout the spring and summer months. Our staff will pick up your private well water samples from your local RM office and deliver them to the lab in Winnipeg on your behalf. We will be advertising the dates and rates of our well water testing days this spring.

The importance of well maintenance

Private well owners are responsible for the quality of their water and health of their well. While water testing can tell you what is in your water, regular well maintenance can help prevent bacteria from colonizing the inside of your well and water distribution system. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to maintain the health of your well:

Seal the lid:

Make sure the well is securely sealed with a cap or lid to prevent debris from entering your well. Cracked, poorly fitted, or rotting lids should be replaced as soon as possible.

Beware of wooden construction materials:

Bacteria love to live in decaying or moss covered wood. Wooden lids should be replaced with metal or concrete lids. If wood is the only construction material available to you, make sure it is dry, clean, and showing no sign of rot.

Railway ties were once a popular material used to construct shallow wells. They are often used as flower bed edging around or near wells. The problem with railway ties is that they are treated with creosote to preserve the wood. This harmful chemical can leech into the water supply and cause serious health problems. Railway ties should be removed from the area surrounding your well to prevent soil and water contamination.

Inspect the inside of your well:

The well casing refers to a small diameter metal or plastic pipe that is fitted inside the wellbore. Large diameter wells are usually fitted with a plastic, steel, concrete, wood, or fiberglass cribbing.

Tree roots can compromise the integrity of wells by puncturing or cracking the well casing or cribbing. The well cribbing is also subject to decay and damage from frost heave. Watch out for rusty metal, crumbling concrete, and misaligned seams. Replace damaged sections of the well cribbing to prevent contaminants from entering the well.

The well head should also stick up at least one (1) foot above the ground to prevent surface water runoff from flowing into the well. The area around the well should also be graded to keep surface water from pooling around the well head. If your well is located in a pit, consider having the pit removed and the well head brought up above the ground level.

The SRRCD can fund 50% of the cost up to $1,000 to fix up your well through our well head remediation program.

Keep the area around your well clean:

Tree branches, leaves, and other debris can build up over and around the well. These materials provide the ideal habitat for bacteria and small wildlife. Make sure the area around your well is clean, accessible, and free of debris.

Flowerbeds should be kept away from your well to reduce the risk of fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals entering your well. To reduce the risk of fecal contamination of your well, make sure the well is away from septic fields; compost piles; manure storage areas; and animal enclosures, including those intended for household pets.

Seal abandoned or unused wells:

It is common practice to drill new wells near existing wells. If an older well falls into disrepair, it may contaminate the new well that is located nearby. The best course of action is to seal the old well if it is no longer in use.

The SRRCD’s abandoned well sealing program covers 100% of the cost, up to $2,000, of sealing your abandoned or unused well.

Well health at SRRCD

The SRRCD can help you improve the health of your well. We offer programs for well water testing, abandoned well sealing, and well head remediation. Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions about these programs. You can reach us in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at