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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Asvisory of the Day



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Ottawa Public Health has been warning those who live within flood zones that draw their water from wells to test for possible contaminants.

Heavier than usual precipitation during the first week of May in conjunction with the annual Spring melt has resulted in severe flooding in parts of Eastern Ontario and Quebec.

Gord Erikson lives in Constance Bay, a community west of Ottawa on the Ottawa River that has been particularly hard hit by the recent flood.

"Our pump is actually submerged so we haven't been pumping water out of a well," he said, "I'm pretty confident I'll be able to turn the pump on in a couple days and expect it'll be fine."

Erikson's used a sandpoint well, a shallow water well, for his drinking supply.

Although he remains sure his well remains safe, he says some of his neighbours are experiencing contamination.

"Most of the contamination is based on well heads that have been submerged," Erikson said, "So people are seeing surface water inside of their wells," adding, "There are probably within 10 houses down the road people are reporting coliform within their water."

The community of Constance Bay has become quite tight knit in their response to the flooding.

A Facebook Group - Constance Bay Flood 2017 - was started and has been used to spread info on volunteer services, bottled water delivery and availability, in addition to well contamination.

"It's actually very unique in its ability to come together and help each other out," Erikson said, "It's actually been overwhelming."

While water provided by the City of Ottawa is deemed safe to drink, those who use wells for their drinking water are advised to take precautions.

The following signs to look out for have been provided on Ottawa Public Health's website:

Well head is or was completely submersed by flood water Well is or was surrounded by flood water Basement is or was flooded The well casing is or was damaged or compromised Well cap is or was missing or damaged

The city is recommending that if a house is currently flooded, the owner should test their well water once the flood water levels have receded and the well is no longer affected by flood water.

Before testing, owners should ensure that there is no flood water immediately surrounding the well after which point they should shock and flush the well.

Ottawa Public Health provided the following comment via email, "Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is communicating with residents affected by flooding by providing information on a flooding information page on Ottawa.ca, which includes a FAQ with well water information and questions about water contamination.

OPH also has public health inspectors and nurses deployed at the City of Ottawa's Emergency Community Support Centres to triage, answer City resource questions and follow up on resident inquiries. These emergency community support centres will also be open throughout the upcoming weekend. Residents can also contact OPH's Information Line at 613-580-6744 during regular business hours or 311 afterhours."

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