Roughly 10 percent of the Canadian population is served by private wells and septic disposal systems. These systems were originally designed for houses that were widely separated from their nearest neighbour, such as farmhouses and the occasional rural residence.
Septic treatment systems associated with suburban developments can stress the environment in a number of ways. They are often allowed in less than satisfactory soil conditions and are seldom maintained properly. They are also unable to treat many household cleaners and chemicals which, when flushed down the drain or toilet, often impair or kill the bacterium needed to make the system work. The end results are the improper treatment of wastewater — if not an outright failure of the system — and the contamination of adjacent wells with septic effluent containing a bacterium, nitrates and other pollutants.
Groundwater is an essential resource. It exists everywhere under the Canadian landscape and is vitally connected to our rich surface water resources. The contamination of groundwater is a serious problem in Canada. Industrial and agricultural activities are major sources of contaminants, but Canadian households are equally important sources.
Groundwater moves so slowly that problems take a long time to appear. Because of this, and because it is so expensive to clean up a contaminated aquifer (if it can be done at all), it is preferable by far to prevent contamination from happening in the first place.
Once these contaminants are in the groundwater, they eventually reach rivers and lakes. In other words, once we have a pollution problem, we may be only a step away from a water supply problem.
All levels of government in Canada are starting to take some of the actions necessary to protect our groundwater supplies, but there is a long way to go before these measures are fully effective. At the same time, universities and government research institutes are investigating what happens to water underground and what can be done to preserve it and even improve its availability to us. Both as a society and as individuals, we must keep in mind groundwater’s susceptibility to contamination.
Source: Groundwater contamination
Call to action
Aquahacking highlight: https://aquahacking.com/en/2020-atlanticcanada/
Stewardship resources: Groundwater monitoring Volunteer Program I think fertilizer application bylaws and understanding around this issue is a big one that can be separated when we have piped water as well
International Examples: Septic system maintenance is not complicated, and it does not need to be expensive. Upkeep comes down to four key elements