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County: Private wells could be contaminated

— Residents in flooded areas with a private well are being instructed to make sure their water source is clean of any possible contaminants before use.

"Any residents that use their own well water or private wells ... those wells could now potentially be contaminated," said Joe MCQueen, spokesman for Schenectady County. "They need to get in there and clean and disinfect their wells to make sure no flood water or river water could be in their wells."

The Schenectady County Environmental Health Unit has issued the following guidelines for well disinfection due to flooding.

  1. Use a half gallon of a fresh bleach solution containing 5.25 percent available chlorine.
  2. Mix 1/2 gallon of bleach with 5 gallons of water.
  3. Pour the mixture into the well, either by removing the sanitary seal or through a vent pipe. Caution: It is a good practice to disconnect the electrical power to the pump to avoid electrical shock.
  4. Run all taps in the home or business until you can smell the chlorine odor in the water. Optional: In some cases, it is advisable to re-circulate water down the casing or the sides of dug wells for at least one hour. This can be accomplished by using a hose from an outside tap and letting the water run back down into the well. Extreme caution should be used to avoid electrical shock.
  5. Shut off all taps and let well stand idle for at least eight hours.
  6. After at least eight hours (preferably 12 to 24 hours), run the water again until the chlorine odor dissipates completely. It is recommended that the chlorinated water be runoff via a hose to an area that avoids grass and/or shrubbery. Do not runoff into septic system.

It is advisable not to bathe in, drink or cook, or wash your colored clothes while the chlorine is still at a high concentration in your water.

Schenectady County Environmental Health will test resident’s water after wells are disinfected. Please call 386-2810 for more information or to make testing arrangements.

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