Important information for well owners

After a water shortage, well water levels may take weeks or months to return to normal. Dug wells are the most likely to be affected. The following information applies to both dug and drilled wells.

Before you start up your well again

Check that your well has enough water in it. You want the level to be close to normal. Before you restart your well, you need enough water so that

  • the water level is 1–2 metres above the pump intake valve, or close to normal water levels
  • the pumping of water does not disturb bottom silt or mud — or you will have dirty water
  • water volume can meet your minimum daily household use — so the well and pump do not immediately go dry again

Don’t add water from other sources into your well: It will drain into the ground. It could damage the well. It may cause contamination.

Consider hiring a professional. A Certified Well Contractor can

  • inspect your well and plumbing system
  • check for damage related to the well going dry
  • help return the well to service

Find a provincial Certified Well Contractors in your area.

How to return your well to service

  1. Verify that the pumping system is functioning properly and has no air in the system — from the well intake valve to the house pressure tank. If you have a water treatment device, it may need maintenance to ensure proper operation.
  2. Disinfect the well, the pumping system, and all plumbing. Use the disinfection procedures (PDF).
  3. Test your well water for bacteria. If you have noticed recent changes in water conditions, you should also test for general and metals chemistry.

Test your well water

Be sure to test your well water for safety before drinking it. You cannot tell by taste or smell whether the water is safe to drink. At minimum, test for bacteria. Pumps and plumbing are more susceptible to contamination from bacteria when exposed to air.

Well water should be tested every six months for bacteria and every two years for chemicals. This ensures that it is safe for you and your family to drink.

Pick up special sterile sample bottles from a Nova Scotia lab that tests drinking water. In Western Nova Scotia, sterile sample bottles are available at

  • South Shore Regional Hospital, 90 Glen Allan Drive, Bridgewater 902-527-5261
  • Yarmouth Regional Hospital, 50 Vancouver Street, Yarmouth 902-742-3541
  • Valley Regional Hospital, 150 Exhibition Street, Kentville 902-678-7381 ext.1085

For a complete list of certified well water testing labs in Nova Scotia, including information on which labs can test for bacteria and chemistry, visit

Evaluate your test results

What do the test results mean? You can evaluate the results of your water quality testing using the online Drinking Water Interpretation Tool.

A good source of information for private well owners includes a series of booklets on “Your Well Water”

More Information