Responding to an Emergency Affecting Your Private Well

Events such as hurricanes or other major storms, flooding, and earthquakes – even lightning strikes – can render water supply from private wells unfit for use as a drinking water source.  Frequently these effects are short-term and can be handled using the procedures identified in the attached links.  In extreme cases, the effects may be permanent and well, or onsite septic system, repair or replacement will be warranted.

Always remember that it is your and your family’s health which will be placed at risk if a disaster adversely affects your well.  VDH urges you to adopt the “Plan-Check-Act” approach.


Plan ahead by:

  • Maintaining a supply of bottled drinking water sufficient to last your family for three days. One gallon per person per day is suggested for drinking and hygiene purposes.  (see for additional information for preparation of a basic emergency kit).
  • Maintain a list of contact information (VDH, Water Well and Septic professionals, treatment system providers).


If disaster strikes, check the well and the water supply prior to use.  This means visually inspect the well and, at a minimum, observe the water for cloudiness and/or odor.


Take appropriate actions (boil water, flush system, conduct repairs, etc.)

The following links provide detailed check-act instructions for specific events

Hurricance-Major Storm-Flooding Response

Earthquake Response

Drought Response