Shared Water Wells

A shared well system is a water system that consists of two or more service connections originating from a single well. Most residential shared well systems in Manitoba consist of 2 to 4 service connections and are located throughout the province, primarily in rural communities without municipal water systems and cottage development areas.

By definition under Manitoba’s Drinking Water Safety Act, these systems are considered a Public Water System or Semi-Public Water System depending on the number of service connections.

A Public Water System consists of 15 or more service connections.

A Semi-Public Water System consists of 2 to 14 service connections; or a single service connection to a facility that serves water to the public.

Note: Systems with 2 to 4 service connections are not exempt from regulation under the Drinking Water Safety Act.

Water systems regulated under the Drinking Water Safety Act and associated Regulations, must meet all regulatory requirements, including requirements to obtain and maintain a licence to operate the system, conduct routine assessments, and obtain permits for new construction. The operating licence may contain requirements related to water disinfection or treatment, water sampling and testing of samples at an accredited laboratory, etc. The system may also be subject to routine inspections.

*New* Subdivisions proposing residential shared well systems may apply to the Office of Drinking to be considered a Private Residential Shared Well System. A Private Residential Shared Well System designation will reduce the regulatory oversight associated with a Public or Semi-Public Water System designation.

The Office of Drinking Water, through consultation with the Department of Health and Seniors Care, has developed the following essential criteria to be considered a Private Residential Shared Well System.   

  • Serve four or less privately-owned residential units (e.g., homes, cottages). No third party ownership of a property. No commercial properties connected to the system.
  • Use the services of a licensed well driller to ensure proper well construction, adequate water supply capacity, and conformance to legislated setback distances from contamination sources such as sewage tanks.
  • Have an easement for the well and distribution main (if there is one) on the land title that includes a shared-well agreement with a well-construction report and as-built drawing of the shared water supply system appended.
  • Be designed to minimize the length of the distribution system (with a goal to keeping it less than 100 m long if possible).
  • Conduct water quality tests (bacteriological, nitrate, trace elements, and common minerals), provide results to potential residents, and consult with a qualified water treatment specialist if there are exceedances of recommended water quality parameters.
  • Be designed so that each individual residential unit has its own direct connection to the well or to the distribution main, complete with shut-off or isolation valves, with no distribution lines passing under or through another house or lot unless an easement is in place.
  • Be designed so that any distribution mains are located at least three meters (3 m) from any sewer lines where pipe runs parallel and at least 0.45 m from sewer lines at any crossings (it is safer to have the water line located above the sewer line).
  • Be constructed in accordance with municipal standards, and building and plumbing code requirements, including the use of potable water-grade materials, and ensuring disinfection and testing of the new water supply works are done before it is placed into service.
  • Upon well service connection to a second, third, and up to a fourth residence, a legally-binding Shared Well Agreement will be put in place, and signed by all connected parties. The Shared Well Agreement must:
    • Clearly establish the roles and responsibilities of all parties to the agreement, including how costs will be managed for on-going responsibilities such as hydro, water quality testing and analysis, repairs and maintenance
    • Include requirements for sharing water quality data and emergency notification of adverse bacteriological test results.
    • Include a mechanism for dispute resolution
    • Be legally binding on all subsequent land title owners
    • Include easements on the land title that ensure all potential buyers will be made aware of the Shared Well Agreement

The following resources are available to assist owners with the operation of a shared well system: