Free testing for private water wells after Hurricane Harvey

Private water well owners whose wells flooded from the recent rains should assume their well water is contaminated until tested, according to Matt Bochat, County Extension Agent, Victoria County , Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

“You should not use water from a flooded well for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing your teeth or even bathing until you are satisfied it is not contaminated,” Bochat said.

Residents who want to have their well water tested should pick up a free water sampling test kit starting Sept. 14 at the temporary office of AgriLife Extension in Victoria County, located at 259 Bachelor Dr. in Victoria. Instructions will be included with the kits, and well owners must be available to return the sample kit from 8-11 a.m. Sept. 21 and not sooner.

Diane Boellstorff, who is in Texas A&M University’s soil and crop sciences department, said floodwater may contain substances from upstream, such as manure, sewage from flooded septic systems or wastewater treatment plants or other contaminants. A septic system near a well also can cause contamination when the soil is flooded.

AgriLife Extension, Virginia Tech and the Rural Community Assistance Program are offering free well water testing to private well users who were affected by Hurricane Harvey as a means to improve understanding of a flood’s impact on private well waters and to enhance communications on well water quality.

Test kits will be distributed in several locations, but any homeowner with a private water well in the flood-affected area is eligible. There are a limited number of kits, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The samples will be analyzed for coliform bacteria by Virginia Tech. Water quality results will be confidential and will be emailed or mailed to residents’ homes.

Instructions for decontaminating a well are available through the following publications free for download at here: Decontaminating Flooded Water Wells and Shock Chlorination of Wells.

Drew Gholson, AgriLife Extension program specialist and network coordinator, College Station, said after a flood wells should be inspected for physical damage and signs of leakage.