Wells & Drinking Water

Flood Resources 

Before The Flood

1. Prepare and store a supply of safe drinking water

2. Protect wells From flood water

  •  Store a supply of clean water.
  •  Disconnect the power supply.
  •  If possible, have the well vent replaced with a water-tight plug, or have the casing permanently extended above flood level.
  •  Cover the top of the well with heavy-duty plastic and tightly secure it with waterproof tape (not duct tape) to keep debris and sediment out of the well, making post-flood clean-up easier.
  •  Prepare to have the well tested and disinfected (if needed) after flood waters recede.

(Adapted from Minnesota Department of Health web resource.)

If cost-effective and feasible, consider disconnecting and moving expensive water system components such as the water heater and water treatment equipment.
Audio version: Prepare Wells Before Flood Waters - Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Water Quality Educator mp3 logo

3. Sandbag for flood protection (National eXtension resource)

4. Water-inflated barriers for flood protection (National eXtension resource)




Sharon Skipton, Extension Water Quality Educator,
Southeast Research and Extension Center

During the Flood

Do not use the water for cooking, drinking, or brushing teeth until laboratory analysis confirms it is safe.


After the Flood

University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension Resource:

Managing Private Drinking Water Wells After Flooding 

Additional UNL Extension Resources
Flood waters commonly have high levels of bacteria. Have the well water tested by a certified laboratory after flood waters recede. If the well is contaminated, disinfect the entire water system using shock chlorination. Shock chlorination involves placing a strong chlorine solution in the well and the complete distribution system. After shock chlorination, submit another water sample for testing. The water should test negative before use. More than one shock chlorination treatment may be needed to effectively treat the entire water supply. UNL Extension NebGuides:

Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water

Drinking Water: Testing for Quality (pdf format)

Drinking Water: Bacteria

Drinking Water: Certified Water Testing Laboratories in Nebraska (pdf format)

Drinking Water Treatment: Shock Chlorination (pdf format)