Government of New Brunswick

The department's Health Protection branch has in place preventive measures to ensure the safety of drinking water supplies. These measures are meant to reduce the incidence and spread of some communicable diseases and reduce exposure to contaminants often found in drinking water supplies.

The Drinking Water Quality Guidelines in New Brunswick can be found in the information section. Please refer to the web page entitled "Understanding your Water Quality Results" for important information on how to read your water test results.

The Department of Environment maintains a database of groundwater quality data collected from domestic wells drilled since 1994. This information can be obtained from the Department of Environment website.

Importance of testing private water supplies

Water from private water supplies should be routinely tested twice a year for Total Coliform and E.coli when the water supply is most at risk- after the spring thaw and during the autumn rainy season. Testing should be done even if there are water treatment devices installed on the water system.

Water should be re-tested after any event that could have affected the microbial safety of the water supply, for example a sewage back-flow in the area of the well, or a flood. The water should also be re-tested if there is a change in the appearance, taste or odour of the water.

When a water well is drilled, deepened or repaired, the homeowner receives a testing voucher from the well contractor. The voucher, which is a requirement under the Potable Water Regulation of the Clean Water Act, covers the cost of inorganic and microbiological analysis. Homeowners who have received a well water testing voucher are strongly encouraged to test the quality of their water within twelve months of the voucher being issued.

Private water supplies should also be tested for inorganic compounds such as arsenic, uranium, fluoride and nitrates. Rock formations that make up the earth's crust are rich in natural deposits for such compounds. Ground water that has traveled through these rock formations could have high levels of these compounds.

Inorganic analysis on private water supplies should preferably be done every two to three years or more often if previous sampling of water showed levels of compounds near the health advisory levels.

The water should be tested for organic compounds if:

  • the water source is located in an area that may be exposed to chemicals such as petroleum products or pesticides;

  • a recent incident such as a petroleum spill has occurred in the area of the well;

or the water has a noticeable taste or odour of a chemical. In order to help prevent contamination of private water supplies, certain precautions should be taken.

For example:

  • on-site sewage disposal systems need to be properly maintained and serviced;

  • the area around the well needs to be kept free of debris;

  • surface water needs to be drained away from the site;

  • pets shouldn't be housed in the area of the water source.

Private water supply owners have many choices for water testing service. They are encouraged to ask the person offering to test their water if the person has national certification for his lab, as health and safety should be assured by lab services that are recognized as reliable.  The public may also choose to contact their local Service New Brunswick office to obtain sample bottles to have their water tested by the New Brunswick Analytical Services Laboratory.  The Health Protection branch offices can also offer advice regarding sampling, interpretation of results, and treatment options

Contact your local Health Protection branch office for more information. Additional information on water quality is also available on the Department of Environment website and on Health Canada's web site.