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Water Quality Issues in Emergencies

This page was archived in September 2013; see home page for current site status

Flooding and other natural disasters can physically damage wells and septic systems, and can contaminate wells and municipal water supplies. Seek advice from your local emergency service providers, county health department, and power company. A supply of bottled water is helpful until your regular source is restored.

General Disaster Preparedness, Safety, and Recovery Info

Don't Be Left in the Dark - Weathering Floods, Storms and Power Outages from the NY State Department of Health (2007). Also in PDF form and in Spanish.

Disaster preparedness and recovery: New York Extension Disaster Education Network (NY EDEN)


General Flood Info

Flood Recovery from NYS Office of Emergency Management

Flood Preparedness and Recovery from NYS Dept. of Health

Flood Zone Maps (Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA)

Boiling Water and Emergency Disinfection (NYS Dept. of Health - for municipal systems and advice for private well owners too; currently has tables of systems with former or current advisories after Tropical Storms Irene and Lee)

Private Wells

Private Well Water - What to Do After the Flood (US EPA, 2005)

Flood Preparedness and Recovery (New York State Department of Health)

Flood Recovery - Private Well Sampling (2006)

Flood Recovery - Restoring Water Wells (2006)

Managing a Flooded Well (Water Systems Council)

Septic and other On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems

Septic Systems - What to Do after the Flood (US EPA), also in Spanish

First Aid for a Flooded Septic System (National Environmental Services Center based at West Virginia Univ.)


Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes (American Red Cross)

Freezing Problems and Septic Systems (Univ. of Minnesota Extension, 2005)

Preparing Seasonal Cabin Septic Systems for Winter (Univ. of Minnesota Extension)

Checking Frozen Septic Systems to Prevent Future Freezing Problems (Univ. of Minnesota Extension)


Coping with Low Water Levels (Water Systems Council)

What To Do if the Well Runs Dry (Water Systems Council)

Conserving Water Around the Home - Managing During Critical Shortages (Oregon State Univ. Extension, 1990)

Water Efficiency (National Ground Water Association, 2009)

Water Levels in Wells (American Ground Water Trust)

Water Pressure Problems (American Ground Water Trust)

Water Conservation (Water Systems Council)

Using Low-Yielding Wells (Penn State Cooperative Extension, 2005)

Managing Your Well During a Drought (Penn State Cooperative Extension, 2005)


Private Wells After the Fire (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality)

Wells and Fire Protection (Water Systems Council)

Pollution Prevention

Safe Fuel Use Around the Home (CCE Water Treatment Notes #13, 2001)

Underground Fuel / Heating Oil Storage (CCE Water Bulletin, 2003)

Help Protect Your Drinking Water from Contamination - Household Hazards (2002, from AWWA Pacific Northwest)

Cross Connections Can Create Health Hazards (2002, from AWWA Pacific Northwest)

Lawn Irrigation Systems and Backflow Prevention (2001, from AWWA Pacific Northwest)

Safe Water Storage and Emergency Disinfection

Water for Emergency Use (CCE Water Treatment Notes #12, 2006) Covers storing your own emergency water supply, emergency drinking water disinfection, and related topics.

How to Store Water for Drinking or Cooking (Penn State Cooperative Extension, 1999)

Food and Water in an Emergency (FEMA & American Red Cross, 2004)

Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water (U.S. EPA, 2006)

Drinking Water Supplies and Biological Warfare (CCE Water Bulletin, 2002)

For information on portable water filters and purifiers, see the section on the Travel page. Filters and iodine treatments are not as effective as boiling or bleach.

Also see the section on Well Disinfection on the Wells and Supply page.