CDC: Prepare water wells before disaster

April 3, 2013 at 1:28 PM
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ATLANTA, April 3 (UPI) -- Floods, earthquakes and other disasters can damage or contaminate wells if not tightly capped or grouted but preparation can protect wells, U.S. officials say.

"In the event of a flood the sediment and flood water could enter the well and cause contamination. Dug wells, bored wells, and other wells less than 50 feet deep are more likely to be contaminated, even if damage is not apparent," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

"Plugging or capping your well before a disaster can greatly reduce the potential for damage and contamination. But if extensive flooding has occurred or you suspect that the well may be contaminated, don't drink the water."

Use a safe water supply like bottled or treated water and contact local, state, or tribal health department for specific advice on wells and testing, the CDC said.

Working on a well after a natural disaster can be hazardous. Disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods can damage well piping and electrical systems. Unless highly skilled, electrical repairs are best conducted by a qualified electrician or well contractor, officials said.

"Fuel and other chemical releases and spills are common during flood events. If your water smells like fuel or has a chemical odor or if you live in an area where the potential for a release of fuels, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals is high, contact your local health department for specific advice," the CDC said.

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