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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Environmental Services Urges Safety of Drinking Water in Flooded Areas
Private Drinking Water Wells Susceptible to Flood Contamination
DATE: May 15, 2006
CONTACT: Jim Martin (603) 271-3710

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) encourages residents to take precautions during and after the flooding that has occurred in some areas of the state, including protecting their drinking water. Flooding can cause the contamination of water with fecal matter from sewage systems, septic tanks, as well as contamination from oil, gasoline and other chemicals.

At present, the safety of most municipal water supplies has been preserved, however many private drinking water wells may have been contaminated by the floodwaters. Heavy precipitation tends to mobilize bacteria and thus highlight conditions of poor well construction. DES urges all private well owners who’s well has been flooded to boil their water for drinking and to have their well water quality tested after the floodwaters have receded.

How to make sure your drinking water is safe:

  • Disinfect and test flooded private water wells after floodwaters recede. To request a test container from the DES Laboratory, please contact 271-3445.

Additional safety tips during and after flooding:

  • Do not allow children to play in floodwaters, and do not allow them to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. For disinfection, use ¼ cup of bleach to one gallon of water.
  • Be aware of potential chemical hazards you may encounter during flood recovery. Floodwaters may have moved containers of solvents, petroleum, or other hazardous chemicals from their normal storage places. If any propane tanks (whether 20-pound tanks from a gas grill or household propane tank) are discovered, do not attempt to move them yourself. These represent a very real danger of fire or explosion and if found, police or fire departments should be contacted immediately. To report a hazardous materials/waste spill, call 271-3899; to report a petroleum spill, call 271-3644; after hours call 1-800-346-4009.
  • Car batteries, even those in floodwater, may still contain an electrical charge and should be removed with extreme caution by using insulated gloves. Avoid coming in contact with any acid that may have spilled from a damaged car battery.
  • Dams are at or near flood levels. If you should observe any areas of erosion or instability around a dam, report it immediately to 271-3406 or after hours at 1-800-852-3411.

Flood-Related Public Service Announcements - May 16, 2006

For more information about environmental impacts from floodwaters, please contact the NH Department of Environmental Services at 271-3503 or go online For public health information, please contact your local health department or the Division of Public Health Services at 271-4496.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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