A flood can cause water contamination and damage to your water well.
hen a flood happens water rises and overflows its banks, human houses and structures are inundated with unwanted water, debris and a wash of chemicals and contaminates. According to National Geographic, flooding in America causes $6 million worth of damage each year.
Even if your house escapes water intrusion, you may still face flood damage if you get your household water from a well. Flooding can do significant damage to your equipment as well as the water itself when a well is inundated. In the event of a flood, contact a well professional before using well water.
Avoiding Electrocution in a Well Flood
Even though your well pump may be built to be submerged, the circuit board can still be damaged. Disconnect an electrical circuit board after a flood, clean it and let it dry, then have a certified electrician check it before you use it again.
A submersible pump with a screened vent and good fitting cap should keep most of the debris and sediment out, but if you use a surface pump, that will need to be disconnected, cleaned and dried before you turn it back on.
Unseen Contamination Hazards
Perhaps the greatest threat of a flood is the water in your well is contamination. You may think flood water is just more water but the flood water contains contaminants you don’t want in your water glass.
If the portion of the well casing that rises out of the ground was submerged there is a good chance that flood water had gotten into your well. This means contaminants and hazardous debris carried along by the sweep of water could have been introduced to your well water. Floodwater often contains fertilizers, oil or gasoline from roads, sewage from broken septic systems and other chemicals used in area neighborhoods.
owever, don’t assume your water is safe just because there was no surface water infiltration. After a flood, the aquifers and recharge systems in the ground water are changed and there could be an intrusion of unwanted contaminates from broken storage tanks, fuel lines that get damaged in the destructive forces, overwhelmed sewage treatment facilities and other underground pollutants. If you live near a tidal area, a flood can also bring salt water into the ground water.
Regaining Drinkable Water
Once your pump is in working condition, turn your attention to the restoring the purity of your well’s water. The most common contaminate after a flood is bacteria, but there could be other problems hidden in that water too.
You should start with pumping the water in well out. You will want to get rid of the water that came in during the flood and pumping it lets the next phase of decontamination, chlorine disinfection, work quicker.
You should pump the water for at least an hour, purging it through a garden hose. If the water hasn’t run clear after an hour, keep pumping. It is important that you take a water sample before you begin pumping the water and then again after. Have these samples tested. It's the best way to know if you have bacteria contamination and if the levels are going down. Check to see if any oil or gas is on floating in the water. If seen a well professional will need to use a process called bailing to remove it.
Test Your Well Water and Test Again
Once you have purged the flood water and removed any oils, you can begin disinfecting the water. Even though you can do some disinfecting by yourself, you should get a laboratory test to make sure your water is completely normal.
To disinfect your water, you can a chlorine laundry bleach. Get the freshest bottle possible, brand new if you can. Bleach strength can fade over time. Get out your high school algebra because the amount of bleach you use will depend on the diameter and depth of your well plugged into a conversion formula.
Here are the conversion factors:
• 4” diameter well = .65 gallons per foot
• 6” diameter well = 1.47 gallons per foot
• 8” diameter well = 2.61 gallons per foot
Once you know the amount of water in the well, you add 1 quart of bleach for every 50 gallons of water. When you add the bleach, first make a water/bleach solution to help the liquid pour easier into the well.
After you finished with all the mathematical work and the bleach disinfecting, you should have a water test done to check for any additional contaminants. Send a water sample to a certified laboratory for comprehensive testing or contact Skillings & Sons and they will perform the test for you. Until you get those results back, you can use iodine tablets or a camping water filter to disinfect the water.
Living through a flood can be disruptive and upsetting. Taking proper care to make sure you well is back to normal will help you get everything back to normal. Contact Skillings and Sons if you have questions or need help with your water well following a flood.