- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The heavy rains, high water and flooding that occurred across Kentucky early this month may cause concerns about the safety of drinking water and well water in affected communities.
Anytime a well is surrounded by flood waters or when heavy rains cause the water to become muddy or cloudy after a rain, the well should be disinfected. Shock chlorination is the process used to sanitize private wells. The product recommended for use is regular liquid household bleach which can be purchased in local grocery stores.
Arrange for an alternative water source for drinking and cooking for 24 hours after disinfecting well water. Wear protective clothing including rubber gloves and eye protection and make sure the area is well ventilated. Check manufacturers’ recommendation for pressure tanks, inline sediments filter and water softeners before you begin.
The amount of bleach to use is determined by well capacity and depth. For a calculation table see the website http://www.ca.uky.edu/enri/.
Mix the bleach with 5 gallons of water in a clean glass, plastic or crockery container. Do not use metal.
Remove the well cap or seal and pour in the bleach mixture.
Connect a hose from a faucet on the discharge side of the pressure tank. Run the hose to the well casing and run the water back into the well for at least 15 minutes.
Make sure to splash water on the sides of the well casing to insure the casing is properly disinfected.
Turn on one outside faucet until you smell bleach. Then turn on inside faucets one at a time until you smell bleach. Do this for all inside and outside faucets (hot and cold water). Also flush toilets and run clothes washers and dishwashers until you smell bleach.
Make sure all faucets are turned off and recap the well.
Leave the treated water in the well and pipes for 12-24 hours. Don’t drink the water during this time and use as little water as possible for flushing toilets, washing dishes, etc.
After 12-24 hours, open one outside faucet and let water run until the chlorine smell disappears. Then open the inside faucets long enough for the chlorine smell to disappear. Repeat for all faucets (hot and cold water). Flush all toilets and washers until bleach smell disappears.
If you rely on a community source for your water needs, be alert to boil water advisories and notices. A boil water advisory means that all water used for drinking and cooking should be brought to a rolling boil for at least three minutes. Turn off icemakers and use bottled water or mouthwash to brush teeth. Unless notified otherwise, boil water advisories last 36 hours from the time of issue.
A boil water notice is more serious. It means that tests show bacterial contamination in the water supply is higher than national standards allow and can cause illness in the old, the very young and people in poor health.
For more information about water safety following a flood, contact Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.