Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jay Lynch, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Cell
Date: September 7, 2011
BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT DRINKING WATER DURING ANY FLOODING
Heavy rains across Delaware are bringing new flood watches and warnings, which could pose a risk to the drinking water supply for
many residents. If you are on a private well and the well is covered by floodwaters, the Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends
using 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 use bottled or boiled water.
If you have questions about flooded wells, drinking water safety and other health issues, please contact the Division of
Public Health at 302-744-4546 during business hours. More information is available at dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/.
Floodwaters are considered contaminated because they carry sewage, chemical contaminants and disease-causing organisms. During this
week's heavy rains, residents who depend on private wells that are 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 are available for $4
at the following sites:
- University Plaza, Chopin Building
258 Chapman Road, Newark
- Thomas Collins Building
540 S. DuPont Highway, Dover
- Delaware Public Health Laboratory
30 Sunnyside Road, 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 may have collapsed, please contact a professional well
drill. With thousands of homes losing power during the storms, food safety is also a concern. Take these steps to protect your
- Keep emergency food on a high shelf, safe from floodwaters.
- Purchase shelf-stable food, bread, boxed or canned milk and canned foods for emergencies. Include a hand-operated can opener,
baby formula and pet food as needed.
- Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety.
- Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer at all times.
- If food contains ice crystals or is 40 F or below, it is safe to refreeze. Keep meat, poultry, fish and eggs refrigerated at or
below 40 F and frozen food at or below 0 F.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to maintain the cold temperatures. Foods will keep safely cold for about four hours
in an unopened refrigerator. Frozen foods will keep safely frozen for about 48 hours in a closed freezer or 24 hours if it is half
full. If the freezer is not full, place items close together. Coolers and frozen gel packs can help keep food cold if the power
will be out more than four hours.
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.