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Curt WohleberWriterUniversity of Missouri ExtensionPhone: 573-882-5409Email: WohleberC@missouri.edu
Published: Friday, June 20, 2008
Bob Broz, 573-882-0085
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Heavy rains and rising rivers may flood wells. "Wells could be contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites that can make you ill," said Bob Broz, an MU Extension water quality specialist.
Water from a flooded well should not be used for drinking or food preparation until the well and plumbing system have been disinfected and the water has been tested for safety.
In addition to dangerous pathogens, floodwater can carry abrasive sediment, debris and other contaminants that can damage well equipment, Broz said.
If you must use the water, check with your local health department for recommendations on how long to boil water before using. Consider using alternative water sources such as bottled water.
If your well does have run-in water, you should take steps to ensure the safety of the water and minimize damage to the well.
Turn off the electricity to the pump and inspect the well and pumping system for run-in and signs of damage. If the well cap is missing or is not watertight, debris or sediment may have entered the well. Starting the pump under such conditions could damage the pump. If necessary, have a certified well installer look at the well and have an electrician examine the wiring and power unit for the well.
"Choosing not to check and clean flooded wells can do damage to the equipment and could lead to health concerns," said Broz.
You can disinfect contaminated well water through a process called shock chlorination:
For more information on shock chlorination, contact your county health department or your local University of Missouri Extension office. An MU Extension guide, "Bacteria in Drinking Water," which includes detailed guidelines on shock chlorination, is available online at http://extension.missouri.edu/xplor/envqual/wq0102.htm.
MU Extension's Community Emergency Management Program maintains an extensive list of online resources related to flood preparation, response and recovery at http://extension.missouri.edu/cemp/flood.html.
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