Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jay Lynch, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Pager
Date: August 29, 2011
TAKE PRECAUTIONS AFTER FLOODING TO PROTECT HEALTH
The Division of Public Health (DPH) is responding to health needs, including drinking water issues. If you are on a private well
and the well was covered by flood waters, DPH recommends consuming bottled water or boiling water for drinking, cooking and
washing. If you don't know where your well is located and you experienced flooding, DPH recommends that you take precautions and
either use bottled or boiled water.
Food safety is also a concern - especially for those who have experienced a power outage. When it comes to food, when in doubt,
throw it out. If you have to think about whether something is safe, you are advised to discard it.
Residents with specific questions can contact the DPH Hurricane Irene call center at 866-408-1899 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on
Monday, Aug. 29.
Floodwaters are considered contaminated because they carry sewage, chemical contaminants and disease-causing organisms. In the
aftermath of Hurricane Irene, residents who depend on private wells that were flooded should take the following precautions:
- Do not turn on the pump or equipment! All pumps and their electrical components can be damaged by sediment and floodwater. The
pump, including the valves and gears, needs to be cleaned of silt and sand. If pumps are not cleaned and properly lubricated, they
can burn out. All electrical components must be dry before electrical service can be restored. Do not turn on the equipment until a
well contractor or pump contractor checks the wiring system and cleans, repairs or maintains equipment.
- Do not wash your body, food or clothes with potentially contaminated well water. People drinking or washing with water from a
private well that was flooded will risk getting sick.
- Flooded private wells should be tested before using the water for drinking, cooking and washing. Test kits will be available at
the following sites:
- University Plaza, Chopin Bldg
258 Chapman Rd., Newark
- Thomas Collins Bldg.
540 S. DuPont Highway, Dover
- Delaware Public Health Laboratory
30 Sunnyside Rd., Smyrna
- Adams State Service Center
544 S. Bedford St., Georgetown
- Disinfection: Well or pump contractors should disinfect drilled, driven or bored wells, because it is difficult for private
owners to thoroughly disinfect those wells.
- Floods can damage any well structure and may cause some wells to collapse. Wells more than 10 years old or less than 50 feet
deep are likely to be damaged or contaminated, even if there is no apparent damage. Swiftly moving floodwater carries large debris
that loosens well hardware, dislodges well construction materials, or distorts casing. Coarse sediment in the floodwaters can erode
pump components. If wells are not tightly capped, sediment and floodwater can enter and contaminate them. Sediment would be seen in
tap water or flow may appear decreased. If you think your well may be damaged or have collapsed, please contact a professional well
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health
and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.