Private Drinking Water Wells
Floods, earthquakes, and other disasters can damage or contaminate wells. If the well is not tightly capped or properly grouted, sediment and flood water could enter the well and cause contamination. Dug wells, bored wells, and other wells less than 50 feet deep are more likely to be contaminated, even if damage is not apparent.
After a disaster, it is safest to drink bottled water until you are certain that your water is free of contaminants and safe to drink.
Plugging or capping your well before a disaster can greatly reduce the potential for damage and contamination. For more information, please visit Agriculture Canada's Water Wells – What to Do Before the Flood [PDF - 2 pages].
If extensive flooding has occurred or you suspect that the well may be contaminated, DO NOT drink the water. Use a safe water supply like bottled or treated water. Contact your local, state, or tribal health department for specific advice on wells and testing.
IMPORTANT: Fuel and other chemical releases and spills are common during flood events. If your water smells like fuel or has a chemical odor or if you live in an area where the potential for a release of fuels, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals is high, contact your local health department for specific advice. Water contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals will not be made safe by boiling or disinfection. Until you know the water is safe, use bottled water or some other safe supply of water.
Working on a well after a natural disaster can be hazardous. Disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and floods can damage well piping and electrical systems. Unless you are highly skilled, electrical repairs are best conducted by a qualified electrician or well contractor. Follow the guidance for your type of well.
- Page last reviewed: January 23, 2016
- Page last updated: January 23, 2016
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