Private Wells Could Be Impacted by Tropical Storm on the Atlantic Coast

A Tropical Storm Warning was issued on Tuesday by the National Weather Service (NWS) for portions of the Atlantic Coast after Isaias reached land, meaning there is the danger of life-threatening rising water moving inland from the coastline.

According to the National Hurricane Center, which is part of the NWS, these tropical storm conditions are expected over the next 24 hours and residents within those areas should take necessary actions to protect against rising water and flooding. Isaias has already knocked out power to more than 500,000 people.

The areas mentioned by NWS were:

  • North of Surf City North Carolina to Eastport Maine
  • Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds
  • Chesapeake Bay
  • Tidal Potomac River
  • Delaware Bay
  • Long Island and Long Island Sound
  • Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Block Island.

Chuck Job, the regulatory affairs manager for the National Ground Water Association, said the flooding that can come with tropical storm conditions can have a significant impact on residential water systems.

“Areas potentially affected by high water tables from heavy rainfall can cause communication between septic systems and wells from saturated subsurface conditions that can be a significant health issue, similar to surface flooding with potential contaminants moving down wells and along well casings,” Job says.

Following a flood, disinfection and wellhead repair may be common needs among well owners. Well relocation and elevation may be other services offered. NGWA recommends water well system professionals be used to assess and service wells.

In addition, in areas of private wells with known flooding potential in the spring, summer, and fall of each year—such as low-lying coastal areas, and river and creek valleys—contractors can work with state and county agencies, and local media, to alert well owners to their services and inform them of actions they can take before and after flooding to protect their groundwater supply.

NGWA has a resource center on hurricanes and groundwater housed on its website for consumers, WellOwner.org. Included is information on how to protect well systems before and after the storm.

NGWA also has other resources contractors may find helpful in dealing with flooded water wells including the best suggested practice Residential Water Well Disinfection Following a Flood Event: Procedures for Water Well System Professionals and a Water Well Journal® article titled “Responding to Flooded Wells” at WellOwner.org/hurricane-resources.