VDH Cautions Well and Septic Owners After Heavy Rains

Roanoke, VA - With all of the rain we have been having, you might want to check out your wells and septic systems.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says you need to be cautious of issues that could result in contamination or the spread of disease.

The VDH will tell you this is a precautionary warning for the tens of thousands of families in our viewing area who do use well and septic systems.

For people like W.D. Messenger, who lives in rural Franklin County, well water and septic systems are part of life. But they can also become a source of trouble during times of heavy rain and flooding.

"We had it checked one time and it had a little bit of bacteria in it. It wasn't extreme," Messenger said.

Messenger hasn't had issues for some time, but at one time flooding did cause his well system to become contaminated. He has since added precautions like multiple filters and UV lights to prevent health issues.

"It's the nearby stream... if it gets really muddy it will feed through the ground. Some surface water gets in... I think is what happened," Messenger said.

"Anytime you see a change in water quality. If they start seeing silt or colored water in their well water after a rain... that's an indication that surface water has entered the well," said Richard Tabb with the Virginia Department of Health.

The Virginia Department of Health does not regulate private wells, but they are ready to help you solve any issues involving contamination.

Septic systems are different because they can affect your neighbors, and breed disease if they back up or are flooded out.

If you do have any issues with your septic system you should report it to the VDH so they can immediately work on helping you get the issue corrected, before someone gets sick.

"If that's ingested through drinking water or eating food or, let's say, pets run out in that area in your yard and come back into your house then that can contaminate the living environment," Tabb said.

If your well does become flooded, you will need to get tests done on the system and disinfect it before it can be used again.

The VDH says most wells can be sanitized using a half gallon of unscented bleach that needs to sit for at least four hours before the system can be flushed until the smell of chlorine is gone.