The recent weather which battered the Northeast and did large amounts of damage to areas not accustomed to such severe weather has also created another problem: potentially contaminated drinking water.
When flood waters containing all sorts of debris and disease-causing bacteria pass over the top of a well, often referred to as a well head, it can sometimes make its way down into the well… rendering any water coming out of that well potentially unsafe for human consumption.
For that reason, health and government officials in New Jersey have issued a public statement warning residents whose wells may have gotten contaminated by flood water not to use their well water without first disinfecting it or having the water from their wells tested for bacteria.
Atlantic County residents serviced by well water who live in areas affected by flooding from the March 12-15 storm should be aware that their water supply may have been compromised.
The Atlantic County Division of Public Health recommends that these residents use bottled water for cooking and drinking or disinfect their water prior to consumption, especially if flood waters rose above the well head. Impacted homeowners should continue to disinfect their well water until their well is tested for the presence of bacteria. Testing can be arranged through the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at 609-645-5971 or by a private certified environmental laboratory. ( source )
Although Water Testing Blog believes strongly in residents performing periodic testing on their own wells, we believe MORE that testing for bacteria or other harmful drinking water contaminants after an event such a flood should take place at a certified drinking water laboratory.
We typically suggest National Testing Laboratories as a good choice for a certified drinking water testing lab. Usually after a flood, though, flood-affected residents can arrange for quick, affordable, certified well water testing through their local Board of Health.
At-home drinking water test kits definitely have their place in this world, but one should never use them to give the final word on the safety of water coming out of a well after a natural disaster.
For more information on safety matters to consider after a flood, the Atlantic County Government has posted a series of informative brochures that you may find useful:
- How to Protect Your Home and Family from the Hazards of Contaminated Water
- Instructions for Disinfecting Water
- Precautions When Returning to Your Home
- After a Hurricane or Flood; Cleanup of Flood Water
- Food and Water Safety after a Natural Disaster or Power Outage
- Septic Systems – What to Do after the Flood
- Floods: Sanitation and Hygiene
- Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect-Related Hazards After a Natural Disaster
- Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems
- Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water
- Returning to Your Flooded Home
- Water Quality and Health Considerations