From floods to earthquakes and from tornados to hurricanes, natural disasters have catastrophic consequences on the affected region's water supply - including your well water.
The last thing you want after a disaster is to deal with contaminated water, so it's important to act early on to ensure that your well, your property, and your family are safe in an emergency. The steps we list below will help you do just that. Make sure to implement them as soon as possible to protect your water and peace of mind.
1. Be Safe, Not Sorry
First things first: after a natural disaster, do not drink your well water until you're absolutely sure it's safe. In fact, you shouldn't even turn on your well during the disaster - at best, you risk damaging the pump and well, and at worst, you risk serious burns or even death by electric shock. If you have even the slightest suspicion of damage, don't turn on the pump until an electrician has verified it's safe to do so.
Similarly, never drink well water that smells of chemicals or fuel, not even if you boil it. According to the CDC, boiling water won't remove toxic chemicals and fuel from your water supply.
Instead of relying on well water to tide you over in a natural disaster, keep several gallons' worth of potable water in safe, airtight containers in any easy-to-access area in your house. Make sure the amount of stored water is enough to hydrate you during a disaster and however long it takes for your area to recover after the flood, hurricane, landslide, or earthquake.
2. Know About Possible Contamination Sources in the Area
As a responsible well owner, hopefully you already know about contamination risks specific to your area, like a nearby field that could leak fertilizer into your well. However, to prepare for a natural disaster, you should expand your range. For instance, a storm-damaged chemical plant miles away could leak toxins into your groundwater, or your municipality's plan (or lack thereof) for dealing with stormwater could negatively impact your well.
Before disaster strikes, check with your city or state's health department, water system employees, and public works officials to get the information on potential contamination sources and what you can do to keep them from damaging your well.
3. Sanitize Your Well
After a disaster, you may be able to sanitize your well on your own to begin drinking water from it. Bear in mind that, as mentioned above, you can't sanitize water contaminated with fuel or chemicals, and you shouldn't attempt to turn on your pump if you suspect that any damage has occurred.
The way you sanitize your well after a disaster depends on whether it was driven/drilled or dug/bored. The CDC provides comprehensive instructions on how to sanitize your bored or drilled well after a disaster. Since you likely won't be able to access the internet during a hurricane, tornado, or storm - or even for several days afterward - make sure to print the instructions and place them in an easy-to-find location.
4. Work With Professionals
If you don't feel comfortable sanitizing your well yourself or if you suspect that your well has incurred damage too severe to assess and repair on your own, turn the job over to the professionals. Find a local company with experience in emergency repairs that you can contact as soon as possible once the storm blows over.
If a natural disaster has recently damaged your well, you want a professional's help sanitizing your well, or you want preemptive well maintenance to minimize the chances of damage in a disaster, get in touch with Camp's Well & Pump Co., Inc. If you're a homeowner in Destin or Clayton counties, we're happy to dig or maintain a well or come out to your home for emergency services anytime.