Ground Water Canada

News Sustainability Water Issues
Most dry wells in P.E.I. affected by age, not hot, dry summer


December 7, 2020
By Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic

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Prince Edward Island – Island groundwater supply is running strong despite extreme drought and record-low groundwater levels this summer and some dry wells this fall.

“We benefit from a really generous groundwater supply,” said Bruce Raymond, manager of the Water and Air Monitoring section of PEI’s Department of Environment and Water.

He said it would take a consistent long-term drought for years on end to see a problematic decrease in the Island’s groundwater levels.

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“It’s a bit of a good news story,” he said.

On the other hand Keith Reynolds, with Reynolds Well Drilling in Lower Montague, is seeing more dry wells than usual.

“I’ve had about half a dozen calls about wells going dry this fall,” he said. This is more than usual but most of the calls were from clients with older wells.

Mr. Raymond said older or weak wells going dry this time of year is normal.

“In talking to the drillers recently they’ve reported a few have gone dry, but most were weak shallow wells not quite up to standard.”

Some old wells are more shallow than the current standard or have other defects that would lead to water not making it to the kitchen sink. A pump placed too high or sediment at the bottom of a well are two of many factors that can cause water stoppages.

Mr. Raymond said most of the province’s observation wells did show record low groundwater levels this summer.

The water table, which varies but can often hold 100 or 200 metres of water, might have lowered by a metre or a few this year depending on the location. The average Island well is 30 to 60 metres deep or deeper again, depending on the location.

“Most people have wells that have been drilled well into the water table,” Mr. Raymond said.

A few meters won’t usually be enough to cause standard wells to go dry.

Precipitation for September and October seems to have been fairly normal, according to Environment Canada data.

Mr. Raymond said a drought as long as it was this year shouldn’t affect groundwater levels.

He said, according to a recent study performed by a hydrologist in his department, through climate change, seasonality will change.

Considering predicted average precipitation amounts, length of recharge seasons and other factors, groundwater levels and the streams that shoot off from groundwater should stay relatively steady on the Island.