Environmental Services Urges Safety of Drinking Water in Flooded Areas
Private Drinking Water Wells Susceptible to Flood Contamination
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) encourages residents to take precautions during and after the flooding that has occurred in some areas of the state, including protecting their drinking water. Flooding can cause the contamination of water with fecal matter from sewage systems, septic tanks, as well as contamination from oil, gasoline and other chemicals.
Private drinking water wells can be contaminated by floodwaters. Heavy precipitation tends to mobilize bacteria and thus highlight conditions of poor well construction. DES urges all private well owners whose well has been flooded to boil their water for drinking and to have their well water quality tested after the floodwaters have receded.
- How to make sure your drinking water is safe:
Disinfect and test flooded private water wells after floodwaters recede. To request a test container from the DES Laboratory, please contact 271-3445 or go to http://www2.des.state.nh.us/OneStop/Homeowner_Container_Request.asp
For information on disinfection of private wells, please go to
For information on proper construction of private wells, please go to
- for drilled wells
- for dug wells
- for point wells
- Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water. Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash hands, or make baby formula.
- If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you do not know that the water is from a safe source, you should boil or treat it before you use it.
Additional safety tips during and after flooding:
- Do not allow children to play in floodwaters, and do not allow them to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. For disinfection, use ¼ cup of bleach to one gallon of water.
- Be aware of potential chemical hazards you may encounter during flood recovery. Floodwaters may have moved containers of solvents, petroleum, or other hazardous chemicals from their normal storage places. If any propane tanks (whether 20-pound tanks from a gas grill or household propane tanks) are discovered, do not attempt to move them yourself. These represent a very real danger of fire or explosion and if found, police or fire departments should be contacted immediately. To report a hazardous materials/waste spill or a petroleum spill, call 271-3899; after hours call the State Police at 271-3636.
- Car batteries, even those in floodwater, may still contain an electrical charge and should be removed with extreme caution by using insulated gloves. Avoid coming in contact with any acid that may have spilled from a damaged car battery.
- If you should observe any areas of erosion or instability around a dam, report it immediately to 271-3406 or after hours at 1-800-852-3411.
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