How to Prepare Your Drinking Water Well for the Next Flood: Evacuation Preparations

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While you still have time, proper preparation is important to protect your well water source.  You can take action to better prepare your well for a flood, even as you are making plans to evacuate.

In case your well floods, store adequate bottled water for drinking and cooking to use when you return home because you won’t be able to drink, brush teeth, or cook with the well water until it is tested and found low in bacteria. Complete the following during your evacuation planning:

During Potential Evacuation Preparations

  1. Locate a nearby water testing lab that can measure bacteria in your well water to obtain sample collection bottles and instructions. The NC Department of Health and Human Services offers some tips on where to find a local lab.

NC DHHS also provides a list of laboratories.

Bacteria in your well will be measured as Fecal coliform and/or E. Coli. On the website above, click on Fecal Coliform and E. Coli to locate the nearest lab that can provide these analyses for you, and save their contact information for when you return.

Occasionally following disasters, your county health department or the NC Department of Environmental Quality can help you test your water for bacterial contamination at no cost – so be sure to check if this service is available after you are able to return.

Your local County Cooperative Extension Office will also be able to help provide you information.

  1. If possible, 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. This will help you know important information like well depth and diameter needed to properly disinfect your well when you return.
  2. 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.
  3. Fill up the pressure tank as much as possible.
  4. Turn off the electricity to the well.
  5. 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:
  • Instructions on how to shock chlorinate your well
  • One-to-two gallons of unscented, liquid bleach
  • Clean five-gallon bucket and five gallons of uncontaminated water
  • Garden hose that reaches from an outdoor faucet to the well
  • Protective goggles and gloves
  • Wrench for well access
  • Funnel
  • Hose
  • Sample collection bottles from local water testing laboratory.
  1. 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.

(Adapted with permission from Dianne Boellstorff, Associate Professor and Extension Water Resources Specialist, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service as a response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017)