Government of New Brunswick

Thousands of New Brunswick families, living in smaller towns and rural areas, rely on individual wells for drinking water.

These wells, in turn, depend on natural groundwater reserves or "aquifers". The quality of the water they produce is always influenced by naturally occurring minerals beneath the ground surface. As well, a variety of man made substances and other aspects of our modern lifestyle can affect the quality of well water.


Well Construction Planning

It is important to plan the location of the well to reduce the risk of influence from other site features such as roads and septic systems. The New Brunswick "Water Well Regulation" specifies well location set back distances from structures, and potential contaminant sources. These are shown in Table 1.

Table 1


Source Required Setback
Distance Dug Well
Required Setback
Distance Drilled Well
Building 2 m 2 m
Road 10 m 10 m
Cesspool 30 m 30 m
Leaching Field 30 m 25 m
Septic Tank 30 m 15 m
Sewer Line 3 m 3 m
Well Drilling Requirements

The New Brunswick "Clean Water Act" requires that all new well construction, deepening of existing wells, and well abandonment must be carried out by a licensed New Brunswick Water Well Contractor and licensed well driller.

A well driller or a well drilling company is not responsible for guaranteeing well water quality or quantity to the homeowner. They must however, comply with the minimum well construction and location requirements as specified in the "Water Well Regulation" under the "Clean Water Act". The driller is also required to provide a detailed Water Well Driller's Report to the homeowner and the Department of Environment once the well is complete. It is strongly recommended by the Department, and the New Brunswick Groundwater Association, that the homeowner sign a formal legal agreement with the contractor chosen, so both parties understand the process prior to work commencing.

Water Quality Test

Mandatory testing for water quality of all newly drilled or redrilled wells in NB was introduced under the "Potable Water Regulation " in September of 1994.

What is Involved with a Water Test

The standard tests required under the "Potable Water Regulation" analyse the water for both inorganic and bacteriological substances. "Inorganic" testing examines a variety of components such as: hardness, alkalinity, calcium, chloride, copper, fluoride, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, nitrite, lead, sulphate, antimony, arsenic, boron and zinc. Bacteriological testing looks for the presence of total coliform and faecal coliform, which are substances typically associated with decaying natural organic matter or discharges from sewage disposal systems.


How Does the Test Get Done
  • The basic well water test costs $122.00 +HST, and the cheque is to be made payable to the Minister of Finance. Prior to well construction, the well contractor will collect the fee from the well owner, and in exchange will provide a Well Water Testing Voucher.

  • The contractor will attach a sequentially numbered permanent identification tag to the completed well. This well tag number is also recorded on the testing voucher along with the NB GIS property Identification number.

  • Well owners can obtain sampling kits from many of the Service New Brunswick Service Centre locations, as well as from RPC Analytical Services offices in Fredericton and Moncton.

  • When the well construction and plumbing is completed and the well has experienced some normal usage, the well owner is responsible to collect the samples. This sampling is mandatory, and must be done within 12 months of the well construction. The samples and the voucher are then returned to the office where the bottles were picked up.

  • The samples are then forwarded to RPC Analytical Services for analysis.

  • The results of the analysis are interpreted by Department of Health and returned to the well owner by mail.

  • The Department of Environment maintains a province wide groundwater data base, containing records of the well water quality information along with the "Water Well Drillers Report".

  • Making sure well water is safe for human consumption is a top priority. The objective of the "Water Well Regulation" and the "Potable Water Regulation" is to prevent drinking water problems in New Brunswick as well as to protect the water resource.


Further Information

Additional information and assistance can be obtained by contacting a Department of Environment Regional Office in your area.

Guidelines for decommissioning (abandonment) of Water Wells