Many people ask, “is my water safe to drink after a flood?” The answer depends on many factors that are largely out of your control. Did flood water enter your well or local water treatment plant? Did your local government officials issue a boil alert? Has there been damage to any pipes leading to your home? Even if your water looks and smells fine, it does not necessarily mean it is safe to drink.
Contaminants in Flood Water
In addition to the contaminants that are regularly found in tap water, there is a lot more dirt and clay. There will also be more significant amounts of organic pollutants from the earth’s surface, such as oil, gasoline, solvents, insecticides, herbicides, and more. More concerning is the massive increase in bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and other biological contaminants from overflowing sewage and water treatment plants. Even dead animals are likely to be in the water. Having overly contaminated water means that pitcher filters or reverse osmosis systems will not be able to make water drinkable, but water distillers can produce healthy, safe drinking water.
Floods pose a particular threat to drinking water systems because floodwaters often carry contaminants that can make consumers sick. If source water or any part of the water distribution system flood, these contaminants can end up at consumer taps. Source: Washington State Dept of Health
Options for Safe Drinking Water During a Flood
If you are in an area that has experienced a flood, but you are still in your home, you have a few options to obtain clean, safe drinking water. You can follow FEMA recommendations as outlined below, purchase bottled water, which may not be readily available due to high demand, or use a water distiller for ultimate convenience and peace of mind.
FEMA Directions on How to Make Water Safe after a Flood
FEMA recommends boiling, disinfecting, and filtering. However, they clearly state, “do not use water you suspect is contaminated.” Below is an excerpt from the FEMA website.
Make Your Water Safe by:
- If water is cloudy, allow to settle, and then skim the clean water above the sediment. You can also filter through clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter before boiling.
- Store the boiled water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.
- Disinfect by using:
- Unscented household chlorine bleach or iodine (useful against most, but not all, harmful viruses or bacteria.
- When using bleach, read the label carefully to ensure you use the proper concentration.
- Chlorine dioxide tablets (useful against organisms resistant to bleach or iodine)
- Filter water through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter or allow it to settle, then draw off the clear water.
- Use a portable water filter.
- Ensure the filter’s pore size is small enough to remove bacteria and parasites.
- Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. After filtering, add a disinfectant such as iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide to the filtered water to kill any viruses and remaining bacteria.
Purchase Bottled Water
People who have experienced a flood are often compelled to buy bottled water. It seems like an easy and temporary fix to their water needs. However, during a flood, bottled water can become difficult to find. It can also become costly when you consider how much water each person might need daily for drinking and other uses. It can also waste a lot of precious time waiting in lines and you may need a vehicle to bring water from the store. What if roads are blocked or closed? What if a car is not available for some reason?
Water Distillers Provide 99% Pure Drinking Water
Filtration (like a pitcher filter) catches some contaminants by passing water through a filter. However, it does not make flood water safe to drink. Reverse Osmosis captures more contaminants than pitcher filters, but can’t be relied on during a flood either. Distillation, on the other hand, boils water, leaving contaminants behind. Once the water boils, pure, clean steam rises and is cooled and condensed back into pure liquid water for drinking. The process of distillation is so effective that it removes over 99% of contaminants. It is the gold standard of water purification. Simply boiling water might kill bacteria, but it will leave dead bacteria and cysts behind for you to drink. Also, boiling alone can concentrate heavy metals making it unsafe to drink. The clean steam that escapes from the pot is the water you actually want to drink!
A Pure Water distiller provides fresh, safe water by mirroring the hydrologic cycle.
Instead of worrying about whether or not your water is safe to drink, you can be certain that distilled water is free from contaminants including heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, and much more. Whether you are using tap water or well water, owning a water distiller ensures access to clean and convenient drinking water, even if your water was affected by floods.