Arsenic Water Wells on Salt Spring Island
QUESTION: Tim on Salt Spring Island
Great website with lots of excellent information!
We are purchasing a home on Salt Spring (Fer De LAnge Road) which is on the St Mary’s Lake water system.
My wife is an avid gardener and we are considering drilling a well to provide water for the garden that she will create.
Is Arsenic an issue in this area of Salt Spring Island? From what I have been able to determine, the arsenic issues seem to be mainly around the middle part of the island.
Hi Tim, thank you for your kind comment I’m glad you enjoyed the site. The original site was built many years ago, my intention was to help as many people as possible with water issues globally.
Regarding your question about purchasing and drilling on Salt Spring Island, As you may know there was a development on the island which we discovered the majority of the wells at the time were heavily laced with arsenic. Resulting in a long-term class-action lawsuit, a very unfortunate situation for the plaintiffs.
As you know by reading some of my articles purchasing real estate with water wells in British Columbia and pretty much the rest of North America is a “Buyer Beware” situation, everyone needs to do their due diligence.
Now that being said this particular arsenic contamination situation is not a reflection of the entire island of Salt Spring… There is never a guarantee of anything when you decide to drill. Heck, you’re not even guaranteed to find water! Do your homework Tim, be sure that there’s water on the property before you commence drilling.
Once you have drilled then your next step will be water samples, you will need to deliver clean water samples for water analysis. The odds are much more in your favor of obtaining a well without arsenic exceeding the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Please note: There is no guarantee… If you are concerned then make your offer subject to the vendor drilling a well subject to your approval or be absolutely prepared to walk away from $10,000 -$20,000 in the event that you are not successful.
You can also make drilling a well a subject to “Subject To” so that if you are not satisfied you walk from the deal losing a little bit of money but at least not completing on a property that may not satisfy your water requirements. With the real estate market the way it is right now you have a lot more control on how the deal is written, no need to get backed into a corner.
Okay, so back to the arsenic issue… Just because there is no history of arsenic in a specific area it does not guarantee that it will not be present in a random water well. In fact I was just called to a property last week and I currently have three lab report sitting on my desk with each report indicating elevated arsenic one of the wells which was being used for drinking water is significantly high in arsenic.
Yes arsenic can be treated, but I would not personally purchase an arsenic contaminated property. I believe it will generally affect the resale value of a property to some degree as you will limit the number of purchasers who will be willing to purchase a property serviced by an arsenic contaminated well. I’ve consulted on a number of arsenic contaminated properties and in all cases the purchasers have walked from the deal.
Too often people are focused on biological contamination alone, that’s a small issue compared to arsenic contamination. All wells should be tested… The more we test the more we will discover arsenic contamination. If we do not test we may never know…
Tim here is a useful link to the Harvard Arsenic Study
Hope this is helpful…