RI Department of Health on Hurricane Sandy and Private Water Wells

According to the RI Department of Health, Hurricane Sandy could impact residents with private wells.

In advance of Hurricane Sandy, Rhode Islanders with private wells should be aware of two serious, weather-related issues that could affect their water supplies.

  • Significant rainfall can cause wells to flood, potentially contaminating well water.
  • High winds can cause power outages, leaving pumps unable to draw water.

Rhode Islanders who use private wells should take several important steps:

Before the Storm:

Examine your well and make sure that:

• The casing and cap have no cracks and are secure.
• The ground around the well slopes away from the well, promoting runoff.
• Have a fresh water supply for three days for each person and pet in your home.
• Fill the bathtub(s) with water prior to the storm (for use in flushing toilets and emergency use).
• Have a fresh bottle of unscented chlorine bleach (to sanitize water, if needed). Water disinfecting instructions should be on the bottle, if not see below.

During the Storm:

If safe to do so, check around your well for flooding and standing water during a storm. If water is around your well, note if it is moving quickly and contains debris. Water that is moving quickly can loosen well casings. Note if it is possible for water to overtop the well. Consider flipping the circuit breaker for the well until after the storm passes.

After the Storm:

• Conserve your fresh water supply and the bathtub water—it may take days to get power back or to disinfect the well.
• Re-examine your well and the area around your well.
• Ensure that the well's casing and cap have no cracks and are still secure. • Note the size and amount of debris near your well.
• If your electricity has been restored, your well is not damaged, and the surrounding area is not flooded, flip the circuit breaker to the well back on. • Make sure your water runs cold and clear.
• If there is a question about whether your water is safe to drink, get your well water tested.


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