Wells, pesticides don’t mix 
UPdate March 2000

     There are approximately 20,000 drinking water wells in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). Guess who doesn’t even know where the wells are when lawn pesticides are used? The sprayers and the City.
 Halifax Regional Council should take immediate action to stop the almost certain wide-scale contamination of drinking water supplies, without waiting for the Pesticide Bylaw Advisory Committee to complete its slow work on general bylaw provisions.

      Clean drinking water is of fundamental importance to each member of our community. Any risk of contamination by toxic materials, such as pesticides, must be dealt with quickly to avoid risk to the population.

      The application of landscape pesticides should be temporarily suspended until the location of thousands of drinking water wells in HRM are accurately determined and protected by adequate buffer zones prohibiting any pesticide use.

      Present data and mapping coordinates on HRM wells are incomplete, but approximately 19,000 wells exist in the western half of HRM alone, according to RG Hydro-Environmental Limited. Additional wells lie in the eastern half. Wellhead protection programs are being implemented widely in many parts of North America, as municipal governments take stock of liability risks, as well as their responsibility to the public. In the state of Oregon, wellhead protection programs are based on the distance groundwater moves in ten years.

      Less is being done in HRM at present to insure that wells are not contaminated by landscape pesticide applications than is being done to prevent contamination from E. coli bacteria from septic systems. When a resident applies for a permit to build a septic system, the City dispatches an inspector to determine if any drinking water wells are nearby. If there are, the permit is rejected. Shouldn’t the same procedure be followed for lawn pesticide applications?

      This is a matter of great urgency as pesticide contamination of drinking water can damage health severely and permanently. It is mandatory that landscape applications by homeowners and landscaping companies be immediately suspended until HRM can be certain these are not taking place near the source of drinking water of any resident in the municipality.

—Helen Jones, Dartmouth, N.S.