Wells and Water


What is the biggest change when you move from an urban home to a rural one? Figuring out the well system. I arrived to our new home, boxes scattered throughout the house and a strong but familiar smell permeating through the house.

“What is that?” I questioned Mr. L who had arrived with the movers the day before.

“The water.”

Since he had arrived, Mr. L had been desperately trying to figure out why our tap water smelled like rotten eggs. The culprit? Sulphur. The bane of any person living in the country. Now,some people may be okay with sulphur water. I had more than one person tell me it was actually healthier to drink and use.  Who knows. The little research I did indicated it should be fine. But, being a city gal for the last twenty years, well I was accustomed to highly treated water, and most certainly my kids (due to arrive in two days) were not going to tolerate sulphur water. Our aim had been to make the transition easy and fun for them. Dealing with water that smelled funny was not going to be a great first impression.

“Not a big deal.” Mr. L said handing me a bottle of water. “Carl and I are on it.”

Carl was the handyman that we inherited with the property. He had been helping Mr. L prepare for our move, doing small odd jobs that needed to be done on a home that had housed one single, male tenant for almost two years who kept the interior clean but did not utilize the other amenities or apparently really cared about sulphur water.

When I met Carl the first question I had was about the water and the well. I had a vague recollection about wells from my grandparent’s farm. The smell I had encountered when I opened the door to my new home was a throwback to their home, until now I had no idea their water had been sulphur water for years.

Fortunately, Carl knew more about the well than Mr. L. “It’s been very dry here and I changed the filter on the tanks. Should be fine.” Well four days later with no showers, it felt like we were camping. But we weren’t, this was our new home and we were getting a bit desperate. I had held my nose and showered once but resorted to jumping into our pool and did the same with the kids. I considered going to join a local community complex in town where I could take the kids to at least shower properly.

For the next five days, a harried Mr. L (who was getting a fast tutorial on wells and well water while questioning this whole move), made constant calls to the company servicing the well and even a frustrated Carl could not figure out why the sulphur issue wasn’t clearing up. The systems were all working, the well looked okay, and we had flushed all the lines in the house. No change.

At last, after many desperate calls from Carl and the previous owner of the house, the owner of the water company promised to come to the house as soon as possible. None of the other patches or filter changes his dutiful technical had tried had worked to this point. The poor technician had been at our house multiple times trying to figure out why nothing was working, would fix something, it would seem okay and then right after he left, the sulphur smell came back. At this point, Carl had resorted to dumping chlorine down the well to kill the sulphur, but then had highly chlorinated water, still undrinkable.

“Go get a water cooler.” I instructed Mr. L thinking ahead to the guests due to arrive the following week. So Mr. L lugged home a water cooler and the corresponding huge jugs for us to drink and I tried not to lose faith that one of the most important things, useable water was in our future but I admit, I contemplated heading back to the city.

At last, our saviour arrived, Mike, the owner of the company came to figure it out. Four hours later, a test on all the systems and the water softener, we had it. Clean, drinkable, non-chlorinated water. Eureka! Mr. L could breathe at last. He had passed his first real test about country life, keep on top of your well water.  The last thing to do was to test the bacteria levels again in the well to ensure all was as okay when we had done the inspection six months earlier. It had taken over a week and a half, countless man hours, but we had water, for now.

“Welcome to the country.” Carl joked as he handed me a bottle of red wine right from a nearby winery. “Now let’s hope the sulphur doesn’t come back too soon and we stay ahead of the problem.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you will have a small water treatment centre in your basement at that point. It’s the last system available to control the sulphur levels and it’s not going to be cheap.”

Another problem for another day. For now, the water is fine and Mr. L is an expert in our well system and I have come to realize that wells and water are rites of passage when you move to the country.





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