Web Resources for Wells

Ontario Government regulations regarding wells are available here.

Ontario Government Factsheet about Wells


Note: The opinions expressed on this website are those of the author. It is best to gather information from several sources before making a decision to purchase rural property, and this website does not purport to discuss all the issues that might arise. This information is provided on a "use at your own risk" basis and the author assumes no liability for subsequent use of the information provided here.


Well, well, well ... you can't do without one.

Canada is truly blessed with much more good fresh water than many other countries, but, as we are reminded in Marq de Villiers' award winning book "Water", it is not something we can ever take for granted.

Most country properties, other than those in villages that have municipal water systems, rely on wells for all the water they use. The variations in how your well is constructed, the cost, and the requirements for maintenance, are diverse.

Shore Wells

If your property is near an existing water source like a river or lake, you may be on a "shore well" which is usually dug and may not be very deep. Depending on the location, it may have been installed by digging with a backhoe or larger equipment, or by blasting with explosives.

If you are buying a property with a shore well, you will need to get a water quality test and certification of the flow rate (the rate at which water can be taken from the well without lowering the supply that is available) from the seller, and it would also be a good idea to find out if the wells in the area are always dependable. Water levels, especially on the Great Lakes in Ontario, can rise and fall dramatically with the season. The lowest levels can leave waterfront homes without enough water in the well.

Perhaps the best way to find out if your water in a shore well is dependable is to introduce yourself to the neighbours in an area where you are considering purchasing a home. You can ask about the experiences they have had with wells in that area, and you may get specific information about the well on the property you are considering. Some are dug deeper than others, depending on the water levels when they were installed. Your best interests are served by having the deepest shore well, which will have been dug in the late fall, in a year when water levels were low.

Another issue with shore wells is that you need to monitor the water quality frequently. You can do this by picking up a few water test kits from your local health unit. The testing service is free in Ontario.

Depending upon how the water under the ground moves either towards or away from the water source, it is possible that your well could be infiltrated by water from the lake or river, with its accompanying biotic content. If so, you will need to have sterilizing equipment (usually a chlorinator or an ultraviolet light) to make sure that the water in your home is always free of bacteria.




Drilled Wells

If the property you are purchasing is not near a river or lake, you will probably have a "drilled" well. The term "drilled" applies both to wells that are actually drilled into rock, and those that use a technique in looser soils which is more like pounding a pointed cylinder into the earth to compress the soil around it and produce a hole that does not fill in as the casing is installed.

The cost for installing a drilled well is extremely variable, since it is usually based on the cost of drilling, installation of a steel well casing and a vermin-proof well cap, chlorination and the work done for a Ministry of the Environment Well Yeild Test. The cost for a well drilled to 100' can be expected to be at least $5000 (CDN) and probably more.

While a drilled well is not usually subject to contamination from infiltration from a nearby water source, they can be contaminated by sources that affect the quality of water in the underground water table (mining, unsealed older wells that go from the surface down to the water table, etc.) and, depending upon the soil or rock that surrounds the well, you may find that the water contains other undesirable elements, such as sulphur.


Living in the country often means that you take on responsibility for things like water and waste management that are handled for you in the city.

There are some fairly straightforward considerations you need to keep in mind:

- if you are buying an existing residence, ask about any problems the previous owners may have had with the water supply;

- if you are buying a building lot, either purchase the lot with the well installed (and ask for tests that show both the water quality and the "flow rate") or make sure you deal with a well contractor who has a good reputation in the area and knows area conditions.

Those of us at 'Moving to the Country.ca' are pleased to pass recommendations along when we encounter services that are highly professional, honest, and dependable. For that reason we would like to give a "Tip of the Hat" to George R. Chalk and his company Chalk Well Drilling Ltd. of Napanee, Ontario (613 388 2809), who did a great job for us in drilling a new well for a lot we were severing.

Copyright, Bob Foster, 2015