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May 16, 2014

Hamilton: Health Department waives testing fees for affected wells

River flooding might affect private wells

Jasper — River flooding may have impacted your private well and made your water unsafe. If your well casing has been submerged by flood 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 a chlorine disinfectant. Add 8 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) of unscented household bleach per gallon of water, then let stand for 30 minutes, repeating the procedure if the water is still cloudy.  An alternative disinfecting method involves bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute.

If your well has been flooded please call the Florida Department of Health in Hamilton County for information on how to sample your water free of charge and where to bring 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 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.

DOH recommends the following steps to disinfect a contaminated well:

 

  • If the water is discolored before adding the bleach, run the water until it is clear for up to 10 minutes.
  • Turn off and then drain your hot water heater— bleach is not effective in water above 105 degrees.
  • Remove and replace charcoal filters after the disinfecting process is completed.
  • To avoid adding contamination to the well during disinfection, clean the work area around the top of the well. Then remove grease and mineral deposits from accessible parts of the well head and flush the outside surfaces with 1/2 cup of unscented household bleach in 5 gallons of water.
  • Turn off the pump. Remove the cap or the well plug on the rubber seal. There are many types of well caps and plugs. If you have questions, you should contact a licensed well driller. If you have a submersible pump, you may also want to contact a licensed well driller for advice on disinfection procedures.
  • Consult the bleach chart and pour the recommended amount of unscented bleach (4 to 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.

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