Many people are unaware that a period of heavy rain could compromise the cleanliness of their water supply. During a season of wet weather, flooding can occur across the region and sewers can overflow. The problems don’t end when the rain stops, and you may need to take additional measures to secure a safe source of water for your home.

Municipal Water Supplies

The majority of cities have some kind of combined sewer system, and this means that rainwater and sewage are carried away using the same waste lines. During light rain, this isn’t much of a problem, but even a ¼” of rainwater could flood most city water systems. When flooding occurs, wastewater and any carried sewage can be spilled into nearby waterways. In some cities, there will be an alert if the local sewer lines overflow and this is easy to predict because they are consistent.

Water Pressure Problems

Sometimes, severe rainfall and flooding can cause the water pressure to drop. This could lead to bacterial contamination, and the city will trigger a boil water alert in the affected areas. This means that all the water used for drinking and cooking must be brought to a rolling boil for a few minutes and then cooled so that it’s safe to use. Boil water alert advice from the CDC states that it’s safe to carry out activities, such as bathing, shaving, laundry and using the dishwasher without boiling the water first. But, in most other cases, such as: preparing food, rinsing vegetables and fruits or brushing teeth, the water used should have been boiled for a minute or two first.

Private Well Water Supplies

The greatest risk of contaminated water could be private well water supplies during seasonal flooding. When the level of rainfall causes the water level to rise higher than the well cap, the surface water and any contaminants contained in it can enter the well. This may not appear to be a dangerous problem, but any materials, such as chemical cleaners, fertilizers or bacteria contained in animal feces could make their way into the well water. If you’re concerned that the well water has been contaminated, it’s important to understand that boiling your water may not be enough to make it safe to use. If the contaminated water contains chemicals, nitrates, and pesticides, they cannot be removed by boiling the water. These contaminants have to be treated in other ways to make the drinking water safe.

After the Flood

Once the flood water has subsided, it’s a good idea to flush your plumbing system because there could be unsafe water deposits left behind in your appliances and plumbing fixtures. Every faucet and water dispenser in your home should be flushed for a few minutes and any ice or water collected during this time should be discarded. Avoid areas where a combined sewer system drains because they could be contaminated for several days after flooding and heavy rain. If you cannot avoid an area like this on your property wash thoroughly if you come into contact with contaminated water. Clean or change all of the filters in water using appliance because they could be contaminated and this can lead to bacterial growth.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.