Drinking Water Program
How to Disinfect a Well
Construction or maintenance work, such as pump replacement in an existing well, can temporarily contaminate well water with coliform bacteria. Bacteria from soil, vegetation, and the tools and hands of the maintenance crew could enter the well. Before using the water, disinfect and flush the entire system and then sample for coliform.
The procedure is as follows:
For each 100 gallons of well water, add two cups (16 ounces) of household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) available from grocery stores.
EXAMPLE: How much 5% bleach is needed to disinfect a well with a 6 inch diameter casing and now has 65 feet of water? Answer: The table below shows there are 1.5 gallons of water for each foot of water depth for a 6" diameter well. Multiply the total water depth of 65 feet X 1.50 gallons per foot = 97.5 gallons of water in this 6" diameter well. Since 97.5 feet is about 100 gallons, add 2 cups of 5% bleach to the well to disinfect it.
Calculate the gallons of water in the well by using the following table:
- Add the bleach to 4-5 gallons of water and pour in the well. Use a plug or casing vent hole in the top of the sanitary seal.
Be sure the bleach mixes thoroughly with the well water. Attach a hose from pump or service line and run water into the well. Use the same hole in the top of the sanitary seal used to add the bleach.
After 15 or 20 minutes, open each fixture served by the well until you can detect a bleach smell in the water then close the valves. Let the bleach stand in the well and plumbing for adequate contact time, at least 8 hours.
Thoroughly flush the system.
Sample for total coliform. A good sample location is a bathroom faucet with the aerator removed. Wait until lab reaults are negative for total coliform before using the water.
It is difficult to flush an entire system when it is large. The well should be isolated, disinfected, flushed and sampled for total coliform. If total coliform samples are positive, repeat the disinfection process until samples are negative. The repeat procedure must be followed in sequence: disinfect, flush all bleach, and wait for sample results before resuming service. Schedule maintenance in advance so there is adequate time to disinfect and be sure water is safe for use.
Warning: Be sure bleach used in this process is flushed thoroughly from all service lines. Remember that bleach contains chlorine and chlorine is harmful to aquarium fish.