Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Florence Preparation for Well Owners

Erin Ling with the Virginia Household  Water Quality Program out of Virginia Tech sent out a draft fact sheet from our Extension colleagues at Texas A & M and University of Florida as well as Kelsey Pieper here at Virginia Tech developed during their experiences providing private well outreach and assistance during last year's devastating hurricanes.  
You may find it helpful as Florence approaches this week.

How to prepare your well for flooding: Evacuation Preparations and Return Home
You can take action to better prepare your well for a flood, even as you are making plans to evacuate.  Store adequate bottled water for drinking and cooking because you won’t be able to drink, brush teeth or cook with the well water until it is tested and found suitable. Complete the following during your evacuation planning:
During Potential Evacuation Preparations
1.       Locate a nearby water testing lab to obtain sample collection bottles and instructions. Frequently, the health department can test your water for bacterial contamination. If there is not a health department near you, your county Extension agent can put you in touch with laboratories that test water quality.
2.       Locate the log/well report completed when the well was established and store a copy of it in a safe place that will be accessible if you evacuate.
3.       Locate contact information for licensed well drillers in the area. Contact a driller/s before evacuating if you think your well will need service immediately after the flood. It may be difficult to schedule service after the storm.
4.       Fill up the pressure tank as much as possible.
5.       Turn off the electricity to the well.
6.       If you have an aerobic septic system, turn off the electricity for the system. No special preparations are recommended for conventional septic systems.
7.       If you plan to attempt to disinfect your well yourself upon your return, have these basic shock chlorination materials available before the flood because these supplies may be difficult or time-consuming to acquire following a flood:

a.       Instructions on how to shock chlorinate 
b.      Unscented, liquid bleach
c.       Clean five-gallon bucket and five gallons of uncontaminated water
d.      Garden hose that reaches from an outdoor faucet to the well
e.       Protective goggles and gloves
f.        Wrench for well access
g.       Funnel
h.      Hose
i.         Sample collection bottles from local water testing laboratory.

8.       Learn how to bypass water softeners and household water filters if any are attached to your water system. Read and have manufacturer’s instructions easily available on how to disinfect bypassed water softeners and household water filters. Disconnect water treatment and drain before evacuating.

Upon Return
If you've never disinfected a well, It is strongly recommended that a licensed water well driller be hired to shock chlorinate the well if it has been flooded. A water well driller will have access to more effective products and will have equipment and experience that a typical well owner will not have. However, I know how difficult it is to find a well driller who is available in the middle of an emergency. So, if you plan to attempt to disinfect your well yourself, follow the instructions carefully be methodical and you can do it. Remember you need power to have been restored to disinfect a well.

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