Although skin contact with flood waters does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, health hazards are a concern when waters become contaminated. Flood waters contain fecal material, associated with bacteria and viruses.
After recent flooding in our area the Department of Health recommends the following precautions to prevent possible illness from flood waters:
If your plumbing is functioning slowly or sluggishly, you should:
Conserve water as much as possible; the less water used the less sewage the septic tank must process. Minimize use of your washing machine. Go to a laundromat. Rental of a portable toilet for a temporary period may be another option.
Heavy rainfall may have made your water unsafe. If you are unsure about the impact of flooding on your well water, either use bottled water, or boil or disinfect all the water you use for drinking, making beverages, cooking, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and washing areas of the skin that have been cut or injured.
Common unscented household bleach (4 to 6%) can be used effectively as chlorine disinfectant. Bring water to rolling boil for one minute; disinfect it by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) of unscented household bleach per gallon of water, and then let it stand for about 30 minutes. Repeating this procedure if the water is still cloudy.
If your well has been flooded, please call the Walton County Health Department, Environmental Health Office for information on how to sample your water and where to take the sample for bacteriological testing. If the test reveals bacteria, the well and water system need to be disinfected.
It is important to disinfect both the well and plumbing water with unscented household bleach to ensure that all infectious agents are destroyed. If you have water treatment devices, remove all membranes, cartridges, and filters and replace them after the chlorination process is completed. The amount of chlorine determines the length of time you allow the bleach to remain in your system.
The Department of Health recommends the following steps to disinfect a contaminated well:
Consult the bleach chart and pour the recommended amount of unscented bleach(4-6%) solution into the well. Try to coat the sides of the casing as you pour. If you get bleach on the pump or wiring, flush it thoroughly with fresh water to prevent later corrosion.
Well Depth in Feet Well Diameter in Inches
2" 4" 5" 6"
20' 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup
30' 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup 2 cups
40' 1 cup 1 cup 2 cups 2 cups
50' 1 cup 2 cups 2 cups 3 cups
80' 1 cup 2 cups 1 qt 1 qt
100' 1 cup 3 cups 1 qt 1.5 qts
150' 2 cups 1 qt 2 qts 2.5 qts
200' 3 cups 1.5 qts 2.5qts 3 qts
Conversions: 8 oz = 1 cup/ 16 oz = 1 pint
24 oz = 3 cups/ 32 oz = 1 quart/48 oz = 1.5 quarts
64 oz = 2 quarts/80 oz = 2.5 quarts/96 oz = 3 quarts
Re-cap or plug the well opening and wait for 30 minutes.
Turn on and, if needed, re-prime the pump. Open all of the faucets on the system one at a time. Allow the water to run until there is a noticeable smell of bleach. You may also want to flush the toilets. If you have outside faucets, you may want to direct the water away from sensitive plants. If you cannot detect a bleach odor, repeat the disinfecting process.
Turn off all faucets and allow the bleach to remain in the system for at least eight hours.
Backwash water softeners, sand filters, and iron removal filters with bleach water.
Again, open all the faucets and run the water until there is no bleach smell- for up to 15 minutes.
After disinfecting your well, the water needs to be tested to verify that it is safe to drink. Although unscented household bleach is effective against microorganisms, it will not remove chemical contamination that may have gotten into your well. Contact the Florida Department of Health in Walton County, Environmental Health Office at (850) 892-8021 or http://www.floridahealth.gov/chdwalton/Env_Health/EnvHealth.htm.