Exposure to E. coli and Coliform Possible in Flooded Locations
(WESTERVILLE, OH — September 23, 2019) According to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), wells supplying water to 126,000 households may potentially have been flooded in 13 counties of Texas during Tropical Storm Imelda, per Census Bureau data.*
Wells having wellheads that are cracked or faulty or that have been damaged by flood debris may allow contaminated floodwater into the well.
The flooding of water well systems can lead to permanent system damage and the possibility of water contamination. Exposure to E. coli, coliform, and other pathogenic microbes from human and animal fecal matter have occurred following major flooding events.
Thirteen southeast Texas counties were declared disaster areas by Texas Governor Greg Abbott because of the heavy rainfall from the tropical storm, in some places in excess of 40 inches. These counties have broad flat coastal topography that contributes to more widespread flooding.
An exact number of wells actually flooded** is difficult to determine without extensive field observation over large areas.*** The well location relative to surface water bodies, topography of the ground surface, geology associated with the wells, duration and amount of rainfall contributing to flooding, and soil moisture conditions prior to flooding will also affect the number of wells impacted.
NGWA’s huricane/flooding resource site provides crucial information to water well owners on best practices to protect their systems after flooding. Utilizing the knowledge of the industry’s top professionals, the site offers step-by-step instructions on maintenance procedures and a database of certified NGWA contractors for testing and repairs.
“Even if wells are not totally underwater, flooding around them can contribute to their contamination if they have not been regularly inspected and maintained,” said Chuck Job, NGWA regulatory affairs manager who compiled this data. “If contamination is suspected in any case, it is important to get the well tested.”
NGWA urges all well owners who are seeking more information on water well safety and maintenance to visit WellOwner.org for more details on how to Test, Tend & Treat your water well system.
For additional comment or to receive a graphic visualizing the data outlined in this release please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (614) 898-7791, ext. 1570.
Sources: Online federal and state hazardous weather and flood reports; federal and state disaster declarations; and online local news reports.
* Based on last census with representative results for household water sources outside metropolitan areas nationwide: U.S. Census Bureau, 1990 American Housing Survey.
** In some cases, a domestic well may supply more than one household.
*** National Ground Water Association. 2002. Field Evaluation of Emergency Well Disinfection for Contamination Events; Final Project Report for U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C.
The National Ground Water Association is a not-for-profit professional society and trade association for the global groundwater industry. Our members around the world include leading public and private sector groundwater scientists, engineers, water well system professionals, manufacturers, and suppliers of groundwater-related products and services. The Association’s vision is to be the leading groundwater association advocating for responsible development, management, and use of water.