Wednesday, 20 July 2016 12:53

Why you should test your well water ... you may be surprised

Written by  Brian Morgan
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Saskatchewan has an abundance of natural resources including Uranium, base metals, precious metals, oil, potash and sulfate salts. All of these resources contain some components that can be harmful to human beings when ingested. 


They exist underground and so are isolated from human contact.
Over many years, erosion can expose these resources to the atmosphere above ground. With development and use of our natural resources the constituents, by-products and processing chemicals used to extract these resources can become part of the human environment.
As well, the glaciers that covered most of Saskatchewan in recent history and shaped much of our current topography carried rocks and debris containing some of these resources from the north to northern, central and southern Saskatchewan. The top layers of glacial debris and rocks then broke down into sand, silt and soil through erosion, ultimately creating Saskatchewan’s fertile agricultural landscape.
Water exists in many forms on and underneath the surface of the earth.  Rain, streams and snow melt percolate into the ground, seeping through and into the various layers of soil and debris, becoming groundwater. As the water moves underground, it slowly absorbs constituents from the surrounding material. Given the abundance of natural resources in Saskatchewan it is natural our groundwater often contains high levels of contaminants, such as dissolved salts, uranium and other heavy metals.
The rain, streams and snow melt that percolate into the earth to become groundwater also carry contaminants from the surface. The type of soil plays a factor in the rate of water infiltration. Water moving through sandy soils percolates into the ground much quicker than water moving through heavy clays.   Agricultural activities can contribute significant contaminants such as herbicides and pesticides. Livestock operations can contribute nitrates and bacteria. Oil and gas activities contribute hydrocarbons. Industrial processes can contribute other contaminants. 
Well water is often the only source of water for many people in Saskatchewan.  It is used in the home for drinking, for watering livestock and pets, crops and gardens. Possible contaminants in well water would be dissolved salts and heavy metals. Older large bore wells, shallow wells and those that are poorly sealed or contain sediment can suffer from surface water infiltration carrying contaminants such as nitrates, bacteria, herbicides and pesticides, and other contaminants from surrounding runoff areas.
Find an establishment which offers a complete analytical options for testing water samples, including heavy metals, dissolved salts, nitrates, bacteria, hydrocarbons, herbicides and pesticides. 
Brian Morgan, B.Geo is the Client Services Mgr., ALS Environmental in Saskatoon. Phone 1-306-668-8370 for more information

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