FLOODING AFTERMATH: Is My Water Safe

Floodwaters can cause issues with one of life's biggest needs, our water. If you live in an area that has recently flooded your well maybe contaminated with bacteria. How do you know if your well is contaminated? Sometimes it is easy to know and other times it is not so obvious. Flood waters are full of bacteria including eColi and coliform. They also could have nitrates from washing over fields and livestock areas. The only way to know for sure that your water is safe is to test it. Well housings that were submerged with floodwaters are especially at risk.Our office has had calls from county residents saying their water turned colors during the floods. The water needs to be tested. We would suggest shock chlorination before testing to kill any bacteria. (SEE BELOW) One week to 10 days after the shock chlorination you should test the well to make sure the water is bacteria free. If you had flood waters on your property and your water is still clear, it may still be contaminated. For the safety of your family you should test the water. Please note that you will not always know if your water is unsafe to drink. It is suggested you test water at least once per year for bacteria and nitrates. Nitrates are especially dangerous to infants. Nitrate levels can change without any indications. 

METHOD FOR DISINFECTING A WELL

1. Remove well cover and have approved well cap available. 
2. Pour one to two gallons of Clorox into the well (according to volume of water in well). 
3. Connect hose to faucet and run hose down in well to mix the Clorox in the well water, turn faucet on full force for 10 (ten) minutes. 
4. Shut off faucet and install cap on casing. 
5. Allow mixed water to stand in casing at least 20 minutes before running water into house. 
6. Open all faucets to fill all lines with the treated water and run until a distinct chlorine odor is present. This includes sinks, tubs, toilets, washers, outside faucets and all connections and yard hydrants. 
7. The pump should then be shut off and no water withdrawn from the system for 12 to 24 hours. 
8. After 12 to 24 hours the outside faucets and yard hydrants should be opened and water run until the chlorine odor disappears. 9. Use water at a normal rate for one week and then have the water rechecked for presence of bacteria. 
Boil all drinking water or used bottled water until a good water test is received. This method will not help a well with nitrate problems. It is advisable to have water tested at least yearly. Newly constructed and reconstructed wells are likely to be contaminated during construction and should be disinfected before being used.

WATER TEST INFORMATION

Water test kits are available in our office at 800 Main, Newton. Testing will need to be done Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday morning and brought back to us that day before noon.  If you choose to bring the test from Servi-Tech back to us to mail to the lab the cost for testing is as follows. 

  • Nitrates & Bacteria (SUGGESTED) $40.00
  • Bacteria Only $27.00
  • Drinking Water Suitablitiy (hardness, sulfates, iron also included) $80.00

We also have kits for SDK labs in Hutchinson. If you pick up one of these kits you will need to take the kit to Hutchinson for testing. Cost for SDK are as follows

  • Basic Nitrate & Bacteria $45.00Bacteria Only $30Household Analysis $55.00 
  • Waste Water Treatment Systems- If you have issues with your waste water treatment system following a flood, fell free to give us a call.
FREE WELL CLASSES FOR OWNERS

If you have a well there are free private well classes available to help you take care of your well and to answer questions you may have about your well. These classes and information are available at privatewellclass.org.


Well Permits



Harvey County requires well permits for any domestic, lawn/garden, or livestock well located within the unincorporated county boundaries.
Well permit applications are available to print below or at the Harvey County Courthouse in the Planning and Zoning Department (located on the first floor across from the Treasurer's Office). The cost is $100. Fee for permit may be paid in cash, check or credit card. A 2.5% processing fee or $2.50 will be assessed for using credit card. Please return the application form to the department listed above. Water should be tested to make sure it is safe for human consumption.


A site evaluation may be necessary if there is a question about separation distances from the well to any surrounding source of pollution. Separation requirements in Harvey County are listed below. The driller must be a state-certified well driller unless the property owner him/her self digs the well. Each well must be constructed according to state guidelines detailed in Article 30 of the Kansas Administrative Regulations (link is available below.)

New Construction

The following documents are K-State Research & Extension brochures that are both informational and help to outline state requirements for well construction and maintenance. Many requirements are similar to Harvey County Codes; however, there may be some requirements that are more stringent in the County Code. Please check with the Environmental Officer if you have any questions.

Well Maintenance

Plugging Abandoned Wells