Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 9:00 am – 11:30 am, at the Washington County Agriculture Center, 1424 Jackson Avenue, Chipley and virtually via Zoom.
As a private well owner, you are responsible for making sure that your water is safe to drink. Do you know where your well water comes from and what can contaminate it? If you want to learn how to help ensure your drinking water is safe and what you can do to help protect groundwater quality, join us at our upcoming workshop. We will cover how private wells and septic systems work, their maintenance, what to have your water tested for, and how to protect your drinking water quality.
This workshop is being presented by UF/IFAS Extension Bay, Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties. Registration is $5.00 per person. Facilitated water testing is available; water testing rates will vary depending on the test requested. For testing prices, additional details and to register, please visit our Eventbrite page at https://JacksonCountyFCS.Eventbrite.com/ or call 850-482-9620. Pre-registration is encouraged as seating is limited; virtual options are also available. For persons with disabilities requiring special accommodations, please contact the Extension Office (TDD, via Florida Relay Service, 1-800-955-8771) at least ten working days prior to the class so that proper consideration may be given to the request. UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
After floods or heavy rains, the soil in your septic system drainfield can become waterlogged. But, for your septic system to treat wastewater, water needs to drain freely in the drainfield. Special care needs to be taken with your septic system after a storm in order to ensure its proper function.
What should you do if flooding occurs?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers these guidelines:
Relieve pressure on the septic system by using it less or not at all until floodwaters recede and the soil has drained. Under flooded conditions, wastewater can’t drain in the drainfield and can back up in your septic system and household drains. Clean up floodwater in the house without dumping it into the sinks or toilet. This adds additional water that an already saturated drainfield won’t be able to process. Remember that in most homes all water sent down the pipes goes into the septic system.
If sewage from the septic tank has backed up into your house, clean up the affected area and disinfect the floor using a chlorine solution of a half cup of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water for thorough disinfection.
Avoid digging around the septic tank and drainfield while the soil is waterlogged. Don’t drive vehicles or equipment over the drainfield. Saturated soil is very susceptible to compaction. By working on your septic system while the soil is still wet, you can compact the soil in your drainfield, and water won’t be able to drain properly.This reduces the drainfield’s ability to treat wastewater and leads to system failure.
If you suspect your system has been damaged, have the tank inspected and serviced by a professional. How can you tell if your system is damaged? Signs include: settling, wastewater backs up into household drains, the soil in the drainfield remains soggy and never fully drains, a foul odor persists around the tank and drainfield. The tank shouldn’t be opened or pumped if the soil is waterlogged. Silt and mud can get into the tank if it is opened and can end up in the drainfield, reducing its drainage capability. Pumping under these conditions can cause a tank to float or ‘pop out’ of the ground and can damage inlet and outlet pipes. Only a licensed professional should clean or repair the septic tank.
For septic systems with electrical components, make sure to check all the electrical connections for damage before restoring electricity (to pumps, for example).
Have your private well water tested if your septic system or private well were flooded or damaged in any way. Your well water may not be safe to drink or to use for household purposes (making ice, cooking, brushing teeth or bathing). You need to have it tested for total coliform bacteria and E. coli to ensure it is safe to use.
Many county health departments provide testing for bacterial contamination. If they do not offer testing, they can help point you to commercial labs in the area for testing.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) also maintains a site where you can search for certified water testing labs by county: Certified Water Testing Laboratories
Hurricane season is just around the corner. During a natural disaster, drinking water supplies can quickly become contaminated. To be prepared, store a safe drinking water supply before a storm arrives. If you are unable to store enough water before a storm, it’s important to know how to make water safe to consume in an emergency.
Before a storm: How much water should be stored?
Store enough clean water for everyone in the household to use 1 to 1.5 gallons per day for drinking and personal hygiene (small amounts for things like brushing teeth). Increase this amount if there are children, sick people, and/or nursing mothers in the home.
Store a minimum 3-day supply of drinking water. If you have the space for it, consider storing up to a two-week supply.
For example, a four-person household requiring 1.5 gallons per person per day for 3 days would need to store: 4 people × 1.5 gallons per person × 3 days = 18 gallons. Don’t forget to include additional water for pets! Store a quart to a gallon per pet per day,depending on their size.
What containers can be used to store drinking water?
Store drinking water in thoroughly washed food grade safe containers that are durable and unbreakable such as food grade plastic and enamel-lined metal containers with tight-fitting lids. These materials will not transfer harmful chemicals into the water or food they contain.
Specific examples include containers previously used to store beverages, like 2-liter soft drink bottles, juice bottles or containers made specifically to hold drinking water. Avoid plastic milk jugs if possible because they are difficult to clean. If you are going to purchase a container to store water, make sure it is labeled food-grade or food-safe.
As an extra safety measure, sanitize containers with a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented household bleach per quart of water (4 teaspoons per gallon of water). Use bleach that contains 5%–9% sodium hypochlorite. Add the solution to the container, close tightly and shake well. Make sure that the bleach solution touches all the internal surfaces. Let the container sit for 30 seconds and pour the solution out. You can let the container air dry before use or rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
Best practices when storing drinking water
Store water away from direct sunlight, in a cool dark place if possible. Heat and light can slowly damage plastic containers and can eventually lead to leaks.
Make sure caps or lids are tightly secured.
Store smaller containers in a freezer. You can use them to help keep food cool in the refrigerator if the power goes out during a storm.
Keep water containers away from where toxic substances (such as gasoline, kerosene, or pesticides) are stored. Vapors from these substances can penetrate plastic.
When possible, use water from opened containers in one or two days if they can’t be refrigerated.
After a storm: Ensuring a safe drinking water supply
If a boil water notice has been issued in the area you live or you suspect your water supply may be contaminated, don’t consume it. Do not use it for drinking, preparing baby formula or food, making ice (if you have electricity), washing dishes, or brushing your teeth. Don’t swallow water when bathing. If you have any open cuts or wounds, do not use it for bathing. Instead, use your own clean, stored water supply or use bottled water.
If you don’t have access to clean water, you can boil, disinfect, and filter your water during an emergency to make it safe to drink. But, if your water is contaminated by fuel or toxic chemicals, boiling or disinfection won’t make it safe to drink. In these cases, it’s important to call your local health department for guidance and use bottled water instead.
Boiling water is the most effective way to destroy pathogens in water including viruses, bacteria, and parasites such as Cryptosporiduim and Giardia. If the water is cloudy or murky, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth or coffee filter before boiling.
Once water begins boiling, continue to boil it for at least one minute.
Let the water cool and transfer it to a clean, food-grade container with a tight lid.
You can improve the taste of boiled water by aerating it (transfer water back and forth from one clean container to another) or you can add a pinch of salt for each quart of boiled water.
Disinfecting water will kill most viruses and bacteria, but it’s not as effective in killing parasites (like Giardia and Cryptosporidium) as boiling. Disinfect water by using the following amounts of household chlorine bleach (5%-9% sodium hypochlorite) and water. Do not use ‘splashless’ bleach or scented bleach. If the water is cloudy or murky, filter through a clean cloth or coffee filter before disinfecting. If water remains cloudy, double the amount of recommended chlorine bleach.
Amount of chlorine bleach (5-9% sodium hypochlorite)
After mixing in the bleach, let the water stand for 30 minutes. If the water is still cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the chlorination procedure once.
You can also use chlorine dioxide tablets, or iodine tablets to disinfect water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disinfection.
Filtering water – According to the CDC, many filtration systems can remove parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidium if the absolute pore size is 1 micron or smaller. This does not filter out viruses or many bacteria. When choosing a filter, it’s important to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions to understand what the system is effective against. The CDC recommends adding a disinfectant to the filtered water (chlorine, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets) to kill most viruses and bacteria. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disinfection.
Join us for a two-part webinar series: Managing Stormwater in a Changing FL Panhandle 2023 on May 3 from 8-11 am CST (9-12 pm EST), and May 17 from 8-11 am CST (9-12 pm EST). For those that have attended in previous years, we have a lot of new material to present and discuss.
May 3: Session 1 will focus on Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) and its maintenance, as well as presentations and discussion on the ecological function of GSI+LID (Low impact Development) and the Community Rating System
May 17: Session 2 will focus on implementing GSI+LID at the community level, with presentations and discussion on updates and opportunities for LID+GSI in Rules and Regulations, available funding and educational resources for project implementation and community-based social marketing.
PDHs and CEUs offered:
4 Professional Development Hours (PDH) will be offered through the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. Two PDHs will be offered for Day 1 and two will be offered for Day 2.
4 Continuing Education Units (CEU) will be offered for Pesticide Applicators through FDACS in the following categories: Ornamental & Turf, Private Applicator Ag, Right-of-Way, Aquatic, Natural Areas, Commercial Lawn & Ornamental, Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance, Limited Lawn & Ornamental and Limited Urban Fertilizer.
The webinar is free for those not seeking PDHs or CEUs. For those seeking PDHs or CEUs, the cost is $50 for Day 1, and $50 for Day 2.
We look forward to your attendance! Feel free to contact Andrea Albertin if you have any questions: email@example.com or (850) 875-7111
As a private well owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your water is safe to drink. What do you know about where well water comes from? Do you know how well water can become contaminated? If you want to learn about steps you can take to help ensure your drinking water is safe to consume and about what you can do to help protect groundwater quality, join us at our upcoming workshop. We will cover how private wells and septic systems work, maintenance, protecting drinking water quality, and disaster preparedness for this upcoming hurricane season.
The workshop will be offered on Thursday, April 13, 2023, from 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Jackson County Agriculture Offices, 2741 Penn Ave., Marianna. You can also attend virtually viaZoom. Registration is $5.00 per person. Facilitated water screening for total coliform and E. coli bacteria is available for FREE! Please register using this Eventbrite link, or you can also register by visiting the Jackson County Extension Office, 2741 Penn Avenue, Suite 3, Marianna (850-482-9620). This workshop is being presented by UF/IFAS Extension Bay, Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties.
For lead and nitrate testing prices and additional details, visit our Eventbrite page or call the Jackson County Extension Office at 850-482-9620. Pre-registration is encouraged as seating is limited, but as mentioned previously, a virtual option is also available. For persons with disabilities requiring special accommodations, please contact the Extension Office (TDD, via Florida Relay Service, 1-800-955-8771) at least ten working days prior to the class so that proper consideration may be given to the request. UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.