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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jay Lynch, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Cell

Date: September 7, 2011


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

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:

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 health:

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.