HANNAH BELL: It’s Time for Free Residential Water Testing

Did you know that in PEI the recommended residential drinking water test (bacterial and chemical) costs at least $135 + HST?

It is generally recommended that homeowners using drinking water from their own well should get their water tested for bacteria at least once a year and should have a chemical analysis of their well water done when a new well is first drilled, and at least once every 3 to 5 years. It is also recommended that you test your water any time you notice a significant change in the taste, smell, or appearance of the water. This is not an optional or nice-to-have perk; this is a health and safety issue. But, the costs associated with this basic water test are a barrier for Islanders who have the right to ensure they have quality, safe drinking water.

There are thousands of Islanders who are not on a municipal water supply, who rely on private water wells for water to drink, cook with, and bathe in. The potential health risks from bacteria and/or chemicals including nitrates in our water supply are significant and costly.

The real and immediate impacts of climate change mean we are more and more likely to see issues arising with ground and well water in PEI from extreme weather events. The recent boil water advisory for Tignish residents was a direct result of flooding, and while the advisory was issued for the municipal water supply, it demonstrates the potential local impact on our drinking water supply. If a local resident with a private well is worried about their water, they would have to pay for a water test from their own pocket.

I am calling on the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Action to offer free residential water testing to Islanders effective immediately, and to investigate how to assist Islanders with the costs associated with water quality mitigation.