Be Well Aware - Treat your well water: A step-by-step guide

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Organization: Health Canada

Published: 2019-03-06

1. Learn about your well water quality to protect your household’s health and safety - See Be Well Aware - Protect and clean your well.

2. Get your water tested by an accredited lab and find out if your well needs treatment - See Be Well Aware - Test your well water.

3. Find a reputable water treatment dealer to advise you on the best treatment method to use, based on your well water quality testing results.

  • Ask whether you need a
    • point-of-use system which is placed at a single tap.
    • whole home system, also called a point-of-entry system.

4. Select a treatment device certified to the right NSF/ANSI standard for treating your specific well water quality problems.

  • Check the information included by the manufacturer to find out which microorganisms or chemicals it is certified to remove.
  • The table below provides a few examples of certified treatment devices that can help address some common well water quality issues.
  • Ask a reputable water treatment dealer or professional for help.
Table 1 – Examples of certified treatment devices
Treatment device
NSF/ANSI standard
Bacteria Viruses Protozoa Nitrate/Nitrite Arsenic Manganese Hardness Important notes

Ultraviolet (UV) light – Class A


X X X        

Class A systems can be used to disinfect your well water in order to reduce microorganisms. 

Particles in the water can block the ultraviolet (UV) rays and prevent disinfection. Water should be treated with a filter (NSF/ANSI 53) before UV treatment.



X X X X X     Designed to decrease specific chemicals and microorganisms.

Reverse Osmosis


    X X X*     *Pentavalent arsenic (Arsenic V) removal only. Other forms of arsenic may not be removed. It is important to check the type of arsenic present in your well water.



    X   X*    

*Pentavalent arsenic (Arsenic V) removal only. Other forms of arsenic may not be removed. It is important to check the type of arsenic present in your well water.

Carbon filters are the most common type of filter covered by NSF/ANSI 53.

If you have concerns about lead in your drinking water, you can use a point of use filter certified to this standard for lead removal.

Cation exchange softeners



Softeners are mainly used to remove natural water “hardness”, caused by calcium or magnesium.

Since softeners add some salt to your water, it is recommended that you by-pass your kitchen faucet. This will help avoid the extra salt in your food or drinking water.

5.  Choose a water treatment device with a symbol from an accredited certifier that also indicates the appropriate treatment standard on the box or label.

6. Make sure the device is being used and maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions

  • Use an accredited laboratory to test the water entering and exiting your water treatment system.
  • You need to know that your water treatment system is working.

Contact for more information

For more information on drinking water quality:

  • Visit Health Canada's Water Quality website
  • Email:
  • Write to:
    Water and Air Quality Bureau
    Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch
    Health Canada
    269 Laurier Avenue West (A.L. 4903D)
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

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