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Assure that your well water is safe after flooding

Extension advice

POSTED: September 21, 2017 10:22 a.m.
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Ashley Hoppers is an Extension agent in Liberty County.

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As Hurricane Irma’s fury crossed the area, flash flooding occurred in multiple areas.

Many residents depend on well water for their drinking supply, so naturally well water safety is on the top of many homeowners’ list now that it’s time to start recovering from Irma.

While many surrounding cities and counties have already alerted citizens in impacted municipal areas with boil-water advisories, residents who rely on a private well must monitor their water themselves.

University of Georgia Extension Water Resource Management and Policy Specialist Gary Hawkins put together some excellent information detailing what Georgia residents need to do if their well was impacted by floodwater. This article is based off his suggestions on what steps should be taken to get your well back into working order after Hurricane Irma.

One of the most important things that a homeowner needs to do after their private well was overtopped or surrounded by flood waters is flush the well and get the water tested for bacterial contamination. But, how much water needs to be flushed to clear the well?

Dr. Hawkins recommends that once power is available, the first thing that needs to be done is pump and flush a minimum of two to three times the well volume out of the well. This will help remove the flood water and potential bacteria from the well.

Discard this water from an outside faucet, as this volume of water should not be put into the septic tank.

After pumping two to three volumes of water, the well should be shock chlorinated.

Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found as an online UGA publication titled, "Disinfecting Your Well Water: Shock Chlorination" (UGA Circular 858-4). You can also obtain a paper copy at your local Extension Office.

After shock chlorination, the well should be pumped and flushed again, this time three to four times the volume of the well.

Just as before, flush most of the water from an outside faucet.

The reason for this is to bypass the septic tank, as this highly chlorinated water could interfere with the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank.

Once the well has been pumped after shock chlorination, Dr. Hawkins strongly suggests that families boil any water that will be used for consumption until they can have a sample tested at the UGA Extension Agricultural and Environmental Services Lab.

Contact your local Extension Office and we will be happy to advise you on how to collect the water for this test.

If the water test shows that the well contains bacteria, then there will be some associated guidelines on what to do to well with the lab report.

We know that this is a stressful time for residents and that this is a lot of information. So if you require more detailed information on how to determine how long to flush your well, or if you would like some tips on how to find the depth of your well, please feel free to contact your local Extension Office.

The Bryan County Extension Office is located at 131 N. College St. in Pembroke. The phone number is 912-653-2231.

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