Water Options and Treatment During and Following Flooding

During and After Flooding

Do not use water from a private well that may have been contaminated for cooking, drinking, or brushing teeth until laboratory analysis confirms it is safe. Use bottled water until it is determined to be safe.

Boiling Requirements

When city/village/rural water sources have been damaged due to flooding in the area, they will recommend boiling water prior to use.

  • Bring water to a vigorous rolling boil for 1 minute.
  • It is not recommended to boil longer than 1 minute because it will concentrate other chemical contaminants such as nitrate.
  • The water may taste flat after boiling. To improve taste, pour it back and forth between two clean containers to reoxygenate the water. Also try adding a pinch of salt to each quart of water after it has cooled.

Treating Water with Liquid Chlorine Bleach

If you need to treat large volumes of water and boiling is not efficient:

  • Use regular household bleach containing 4%-6% sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient. Avoid using scented bleaches. Also, try to use bleach that is not more than three months old.
  • For clear water, add 6 drops per 1 gallon with a medicine dropper.
  • For cloudy water, strain water through a clean cloth, layers of paper towels, or a coffee filter prior to treatment. Add 16 drops per gallon.
  • Stir water and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Water should have a slight chlorine odor after 30 minutes. If there is no odor, repeat the dosage and let the water stand covered another 15 minutes. If there is still no odor, the bleach may have lost its effectiveness due to age or exposure to light or heat.

If your well has been submerged and 

Storing Chlorinated Treated Water

If you treat a large amount of water at a time, storage is important so you have easy access to clean water.

  • Use only food-quality containers made of either glass or plastic.
  • Wash the containers and lids thoroughly with hot tap water and dish detergent.
  • Label containers with the date water was treated.

Storing Water at Room Temperature

  • Store containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Remember water weighs more than eight pounds per gallon so make sure to store on shelving that can support the weight.

Storing Water in the Freezer

  • Leave 2 to 3 inches of air space in the top of containers before freezing.
  • Avoid freezing water in glass containers.
  • If you lose electricity, frozen water will keep foods frozen for a period of approximately two days.