Friday, January 01, 2016

Private Water Wells Should Be Cleaned After Disaster

Contact: Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist
Headquartered in Webster County
Tel: (417) 859-2044

MARSHFIELD, Mo. -- If a private water well has been flooded or otherwise damaged by storms, the well and the entire water system should be cleaned and disinfected. Floods can contaminate wells with silt, raw sewage, oil and disease organisms.

"First, remove silt and debris from the well and examine the casing, motors and pumps, piping, electrical and other system components for damage. Consult a service professional if damage is extensive or if you are unable to make repairs," said Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

According to Schultheis, the following steps should be taken to disinfect a well:

1. Pump the water until it is clear.

2. Scrub and disinfect the pump room and wash all equipment with at least a two percent chlorine solution. Laundry bleach is usually six percent chlorine, so mix 1 gallon with 2 gallons of water.

3. Remove the well seal or plug at the top of the casing. Pour a solution of one quart of laundry bleach and three gallons of water into the top of the casing. Leave it there at least four hours, preferably overnight.

4. Pump the chlorinated water through the system. While filling all piping, open one faucet at a time until there is a strong chlorine odor at each faucet. Close the faucet and leave the chlorine in the piping at least two hours, preferably overnight.

5. Pump and flush the system until the taste and odor of chlorine are no longer present.

6. Have the water tested for bacteria. Boil or treat all drinking water until the water test indicates the water is safe for all purposes.

Water testing for bacteria is available through county health departments at

Details on treating a bacteria-contaminated well are available at

In emergencies, questionable water can be made drinkable by following the procedures in

Additional information on this topic is available online at or on the national Extension website

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians. Each county extension center, with oversight by locally elected and appointed citizens, is your local link to practical education on almost anything.


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