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Wisconsin Department of Health Services


Flood Home

Cleaning Up:
-Your Home
-Using Bleach

Potential Hazards:
-Drinking Water
-Surface Water

Other Resources for Residents

Health Professionals

Prepare for a Flood - ReadyWI (exit DHS)


Flooding - Drinking Water Issues

Local Information

Be sure to check with your local health department regarding well testing kits, well disinfection information, or available flooding resources

Municipal Water Users

  • Turn on and run faucets for at least five minutes before using water for drinking or food preparation. 
  • If a "boil water" notice is issued, follow any directions given by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, local water utility, or local health department.

Private Well Owners

  • Private well owners whose well has been flooded should wait until the floodwaters have receded and then test the well.
  • Do not use water from a private well that has been or is flooded. 
  • Whenever you notice a change in water quality, or anytime there’s been flooding near your well, have your well tested for bacteria contamination. 
  • For information on how to sample your water, go to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). (exit DHS) If you want to obtain the sample yourself, a well water testing kit is available at your local public health department. 
  • If contamination is found, disinfect your well/water supply. (exit DHS) 
  • Until the test results are known, follow these procedures to ensure safe drinking water:  
    • Drink bottled water or water from a known, safe source. 
    • If necessary, you can make water safe to drink by boiling it for five minutes.
  • When in doubt, if the water is CLOUDY, ODOROUS, COLORED - DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!
  • For more information, go to the Water Issues page.

Disinfecting Your Well and Water System

Private wells can become contaminated in a number of different ways (flooding, insects, soil entry, etc.). 

  • Whenever you notice a change in water quality, or anytime there has been flooding near your well, have your well sampled for coliform bacteria contamination. Coliform bacteria are indicators of surface water or fecal (sewage) contamination. When this occurs, the well and water system will need to be disinfected.
  • Once an inspection has determined that your water system is free from any sources of apparent contamination, you should disinfect the well.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website provides procedures for well disinfection:

For more information, contact your local public health department.

Last Revised: March 20, 2014