Water Protection & Sustainability Branch
Well Protection Toolkit
Preventing problems is much more cost-effective than fixing them. If we develop well protection plans now, we will ensure future generations have
good-quality ground water.
Ground water is an important source of drinking water for many communities in British Columbia. It is estimated that over 1 million British Columbians rely on wells to supply their drinking water (Knowlan, 2005). Many wells that provide water to communities or municipalities, however, are located in areas where human activities can affect water quality. The impact is most severe where these “community wells” draw water from shallow aquifers that are vulnerable to contamination from land use activities and non-point sources of pollution. Unregulated activities at the land surface have already resulted in the contamination of some community wells.
Safe, clean drinking water is important to the health of British Columbians. Many rural areas depend on wells for their drinking water supply. The
Well Protection Toolkit will help communities protect the quality
of their drinking water.
A key component in protecting community well water supplies is the development and implementation of a well protection plan by the community. A well protection plan contains practical, protective measures to minimize and prevent undesirable impacts from land use activities on the source of water for the community well. Protecting source water through a well protection plan is one of the barriers in the multi-barrier approach to drinking water protection.
Experience from elsewhere in Canada, the USA, and Europe shows that preventing contamination of water quality by implementing a well protection plan is the best and most cost-effective way to protect a community's well water supply.
In 2000, the Province of British Columbia, Environment Canada and the British Columbia Ground Water Association jointly published the Well Protection Toolkit. The toolkit is a set of guidelines for the six-step approach on how a community can develop and put into place a well protection plan to prevent contamination of their well water supply. The toolkit contains seven booklets which discusses these six steps and includes an example of how each step is implemented in the fictitious community of Pumphandle, B.C.. In the last five years, communities in British Columbia have begun to use the toolkit to help develop a well protection plan for their wells. The toolkit was updated in 2006 to reflect new Ministry names, legislation and web sites.
Objectives of the Well Protection Toolkit
The B.C. Ground Water Association strongly endorses this well protection measure. Protecting existing and future wells is the main reason for our existence. Ground water is British Columbia's most important and underused resource.
The objectives of the Well Protection Toolkit are:
- To educate water supply system owners, communities, and local governments about the benefits of ground water protection. To raise awareness and encourage personal responsibility by providing information to the general public on well water protection.
- To outline a practical, step-by-step approach on how water supply system owners, communities, and local governments can develop their own well protection plan.
- To encourage water supply system owners, communities, and local governments to use the Toolkit to develop and implement a well protection plan for their community well water source.
- To promote good water stewardship in communities where ground water is the principal water supply.
Good quality ground water is vital to the economic growth of the province. As such, ground water protection should be an essential part of community planning.
For more information...
If you have any comments or questions about the Well Protection Toolkit or on how to develop a well protection plan for your community well water supply, contact the Ministry of Environment, Water Stewardship Division, regional hydrogeologist in your nearest Ministry of Environment regional office or your regional health authority Drinking Water Officer. We sincerely hope the Well Protection Toolkit will be useful to you and your community in developing and implementing a well protection plan to protect this valuable but hidden resource - your community well water supply!