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‘These tests are important’: Expanded well water testing program could benefit Greenwood residents

Kings West MLA Leo Glavine says Greenwood residents using well water should take advantage of the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s newly expanded water testing program due to the history of contamination issues in various parts of the village.
Kings West MLA Leo Glavine says Greenwood residents using well water should take advantage of the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s newly expanded water testing program due to the history of contamination issues in various parts of the village. - Sara Ericsson
GREENWOOD, N.S. —

Greenwood Village Commission chairman Brian Banks says it’s a good idea for the village’s well water consumers to make use of a newly expanded testing program.

The program in question is the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s newly expanded well water testing program, which Banks says, “would benefit homeowners not hooked up to Kings County’s municipal water utility.”

One of the program’s QEII environmental lab managers, Randy Veinotte, agrees and asserts that most homeowners don’t realize they are responsible for testing.

“These tests are important because most people don’t know it’s up to them to test their own well water. It may sound cliched, but a lot of people have lived in their homes for let’s say 10 years, and say, ‘no one told me I needed to test this.’ It’s no different than any part of your health – a diagnosis comes from test results,” says Veinotte.

Nova Scotia Health Authority environmental lab manager Randy Veinotte has confirmed there is no current plan to assist homeowners with testing costs, and Kings West MLA Leo Glavine says this is something he will pushing for in the future.
Nova Scotia Health Authority environmental lab manager Randy Veinotte has confirmed there is no current plan to assist homeowners with testing costs, and Kings West MLA Leo Glavine says this is something he will pushing for in the future.

The program’s expansion went live Feb. 4 and now includes well water testing kits Nova Scotians can pick up and drop off in locations across the province, including Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville, Hants Community Hospital in Windsor, Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, and Annapolis Community Health Centre in Annapolis Royal.

The tests range in cost from $30 to $121 and vary in scope from bacterial testing for Coliform & E. coli, to a chemical analysis testing for more than 30 different chemicals, including arsenic – a contaminant that has long been a problem in Greenwood well water.

The province states that around 46 per cent of Nova Scotians use well water and homeowners are responsible for ensuring it meets standards through regular testing. It recommends that homeowners test for bacteria every six months, and every two years for chemicals.

Veinotte says while some provinces pay for the test, Nova Scotia does not currently have a plan in place to assist homeowners with the cost.

Kings West MLA Leo Glavine suspects many Greenwood village well water users don’t yet know about the program since constituency handouts have not yet discussed it.

“It’s no different than any part of your health – a diagnosis comes from test results.” - Randy Veinotte

He also says the cost could prove a problem for some in the village and this is something he as Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors will consider seeking a solution for.

“There could definitely be seniors, and fixed income people, who would find this as an expensive proposition and even a prohibitive one,” he says.

Glavine says the ultimate solution due to the area’s high arsenic levels is for people to move from well water to the municipal water utility “which has constant monitoring.”

“I believe this is the ultimate answer, for dealing with water that may have any kind of contaminant in it,” he says.

County of Kings Engineering and Public Works director Scott Quinn says while he cannot confirm how many current well users there are in Greenwood or Kings County, there are “over 600 customers” currently connected to municipal water in Greenwood.

Banks says the village and Municipality of the County of Kings are currently looking at building a new well for the village as an independent supply so that if its current municipal water system was ever contaminated, it would act as a safe backup supply.

And with contamination risk being something the village has had to grapple with many times, Banks says this is why people must be diligent about water testing.

“People need to be aware that the problem is there, and it’s not going away,” he says.

This program does not test for tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or PCE. This chemical has been found in some well water supplies in Greenwood in the past and has been linked to a 1995 fire at a dry-cleaning operation on Central Avenue.

Quinn says village residents wanting to test their well water for this would do so through sending samples to an accredited lab.


Detailed description of test costs and scope of analyses:

  1. Bacterial Analysis – done locally in most zones
  1. Total Coliform & E.coli (P/A = Presence/Absence), $30
  2. Total Coliform & E.coli (MPN = Most Probable Number), $40
  1. Chemical Analysis – done at NSHA, QE11 lab
  1. Package #1: Arsenic, Uranium, $32.72
  2. Package #2: Arsenic, Uranium, Lead, Nitrate/Nitrite, Fluoride, $51.39
  3. Package #3: Calcium, Magnesium, Aluminum, Boron, Barium, Beryllium, Cadmium, Cobalt, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Hardness, Nickel, Lead, Antimony, Selenium, Tin, Vanadium, Zinc, Arsenic, Uranium, Titanium, Molybdenum, Strontium, Silver, Thallium, Sodium, Potassium, Nitrate/Nitrite, Fluoride, $104.93
  4. Package #4: All parameters in Package #3 plus Chloride, Sulfate, $120.67

For more information on chemical analysis, please contact the Environmental Laboratory at 902-473-8466.

(Source: Nova Scotia Health Authority)

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