Do Hurricanes Affect Water Quality?
The 2004 year has quickly become known as the "Year of the Hurricane." You'd have to be living in a cave not to have heard about all the turmoil that Katrina, Charley, Francis and Ivan have caused so far in the United States. As most of us have seen on the news and some of us have experienced first hand, hurricanes can devastate property and the surrounding environment. But what you don't see on CNN or the Weather Channel is the impact a powerful storm can have on water supplies in hard-hit areas.
When accompanied by flooding or tidal surges, hurricanes can contaminate a town's or city water supply. As we know consuming contaminated water can cause serious illness, so you should never assume that the water in the hurricane-impacted area is safe to drink. Another thing to consider is that in areas affected by a hurricane, even the water treatment facilities may not be operating properly. Moreover, the chemicals used to treat everyday water quality may be completely inadequate to handle a drastic increase in contamination. And, even if the water companies are prepared, flooding, tidal surges, storm damage and the resulting debris can contaminate water mains and service lines.
Overflowing sewage systems is another obvious hazard, which can result in dangerous levels of bacteriological pollution. When in doubt, keep an ear out for public announcements about the safety of the municipal water supply.For people connected to private wells in areas affected by hurricanes, the scenario is even more urgent. No matter how deep your well is assume the water is no longer safe to drink. Even if your well has not been flooded, another nearby well that taps into the very same aquifer may have been impacted.
Posted by Lisa