How Hurricanes Can Impact Water Quality and Safety

September 30, 2017

Thanks to the technological advancements we are usually informed well before a major hurricane hits the United States. We are fortunate to have such advanced technology at our disposal. This detection technology helps to save thousands of lives as well as provides people with the means to help protect their families and prepare for major property related disasters. In addition to the horrendous property damages and even deaths that these storms can cause, there is another major and often neglected consequence from hurricanes.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, the water quality for the city and private well-water sources can become contaminated. While this seems like an afterthought given most people are concerned with their immediate well-being, the effects of contaminated water systems can linger for years and cause numerous health issues that can be impossible to reverse and even lead to death.

It all happens very quickly. When a hurricane hits a specific area, the water surge can cause a drastic rise of contamination levels. When these storms hit, they push a tremendous amount of toxins and contaminants from the earth directly into our water supply. When a storm is extremely powerful, municipal water treatment plants may not be running at their regular capacity and this can result in significant contamination. Flood waters can also mix with the contents from the water treatment plants, escape the facility and enter surrounding lakes, streams and well water supply.

You often hear of notices not to use water after a major hurricane. Since these toxin and contamination increases can be incredibly vast, the local water plants may just be unable to handle the level of contamination that is coming in. By consuming this toxic water, you are putting you and your family at risk for numerous diseases and illnesses.

When there is a massive water surge from a hurricane, the sewage systems can be impacted. The potential for the overgrowth of bacteria is high and those on private well water systems can be impacted the greatest. The reason for this is because the majority of well water systems are inter-connected, so even if your well was not impacted, the neighboring well contaminants can make their way into your supply.

Hurricanes also create larger issues that are out of the hands of the local municipality plants. During a large hurricane, chemicals, toxins and debris can actually make their way into the public water system and bypass water treatment plants. In these situations, the contamination can actually affect the water mains and lines in individual households. These flood water related dangers can put you at risk long after the visible signs of a flood or hurricane.

Most advise against using your well water after a powerful hurricane or flood hits your area. It is crucial to get your water tested after a major storm to ensure you are consuming safe water. However, water tests only provide a snapshot of water quality at a given specific time. Water quality is dynamic and changes as quickly as water flows. The safest approach to protect those you are responsible for is to have an on site POE (point of entry) or POU (point of use) water purification system. This level of protection assures that the water is safe and pure immediately before use.

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