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By Tori Adolf, Agricultural TechnicianA healthy well is essential to life in rural Alberta, and it is the responsibility of the landowner to look after the water wells on their properties. One of the common problems landowners have to deal with in their water wells is contamination from bacteria. Shock chlorination of the well is a way to keep this bacteria in check.Shock chlorination is used to control iron-related bacteria (IRB) and sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and to eliminate E. Coli bacteria in the well and the entire water system. IRB and SRB are harmless to humans, but if left to flourish in the well they can cause reduced yields and restricted water flow in distribution lines as well as plug off equipment and cause permanent damage to the well. E. Coli on the other hand is a harmful bacteria, and the water cannot be consumed until all traces of E. Coli have been removed.Land owners can perform the shock chlorination themselves or can hire a licensed water well contractor to do the procedure. To learn how to perform the shock chlorination treatment, Working Well has a number of resources available online at www.workingwell.alberta.ca. Accessible online is a fact sheet on Shock Chlorinating Your Well, as well as two YouTube videos describing in detail the reasons and process behind shock chlorinating. Also available is a 12 module workbook titled “Water Wells That Last”, fact sheets on other well maintenance topics, resources including water testing and well management log sheets and contact information for the program.To be effective, shock chlorination of the well must be completed, at minimum, annually as part of a regular maintenance program. Shock Chlorination treatments should also be done after installing a new well, any repair or maintenance on the existing well and if any noticeable changes occur to the waters clarity, colour or taste. If the well is older or regular preventative maintenance has not occurred, a licensed water well contractor may be required to inspect and clean the well. Testing the well water regularly and performing good annual maintenance of the well including shock chlorination, will help to increase the safety and longevity of the well.More information about water wells can be found online at www.workingwell.alberta.ca. Working Well also puts on a number of workshops in the spring and fall. In the Red Deer County area, the Summer Villages of Sylvan Lake, at Sylvan Lake is hosting a workshop on May 10 and Clearwater County, at Rocky Mountain House is hosting on May 31. Please contact Red Deer County Ag Department at 403.342.8654 or email@example.com with any well related questions.Photo Credit: Agriculture and Forestry