National Ground Water Association predicts that more than 126,000 household wells in Texas could be impacted by Imelda

Exposure to e. coli and coliform possible in flooded locations

Community report

Wells supplying water to 126,000 households may potentially have been flooded in 13 counties of Texas during Tropical Storm Imelda, per Census Bureau data, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

Wells having wellheads that are cracked or faulty or that have been damaged by flood debris may allow contaminated floodwater into the well.

The flooding of water well systems can lead to permanent system damage and the possibility of water contamination. Exposure to E. coli, coliform, and other pathogenic microbes from human and animal fecal matter have occurred following major flooding events.

Thirteen southeast Texas counties were declared disaster areas by Texas Governor Greg Abbott because of the heavy rainfall from the tropical storm, in some places in excess of 40 inches. These counties have broad flat coastal topography that contributes to more widespread flooding.

An exact number of wells actually flooded is difficult to determine without extensive field observation over large areas. The well location relative to surface water bodies, topography of the ground surface, geology associated with the wells, duration and amount of rainfall contributing to flooding, and soil moisture conditions prior to flooding will also affect the number of wells impacted.

NGWA’s hurricane/flooding resource site provides crucial information to water well owners on best practices to protect their systems after flooding. Utilizing the knowledge of the industry’s top professionals, the site offers step-by-step instructions on maintenance procedures and a database of certified contractors for testing and repairs. 

Even if wells are not totally underwater, flooding around them can contribute to their contamination if they have not been regularly inspected and maintained,” said Chuck Job, NGWA regulatory affairs manager who compiled this data. “If contamination is suspected in any case, it is important to get the well tested.” NGWA urges all well owners who are seeking more information on water well safety and maintenance to visit for more details on how Test, Tend & Treat your water well system.

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