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Disinfecting Private Wells Page 2

Private Well Disinfection Directions

1. Determine the appropriate amount of chlorinating chemical needed to obtain 100 parts per million (ppm) available chlorine1 for routine disinfection or 500 ppm for emergency post-flood disinfection using Chart A for sodium hypochlorite or Chart B for calcium hypochlorite2.

Chart A: Quantities of Liquid Household Bleach3 (5-6%) Required for Well Disinfection

[T = tablespoon; C = cup; Q = quart; G = gallon]

Chart B: Quantities of Dry Calcium Hypochlorite Pool Chemical4 (67%) Required for Well Disinfection

[T = tablespoon; C = cup]

2. If water is muddy or cloudy, as after a flood, run water from an outside spigot with a hose attached until the water becomes clear and sediment-free.

3. Divide the appropriate amount of chlorinating chemical among three or four bucketsful of water, mixing thoroughly.

4. Remove the well casing cap being careful not to contaminate the cap or let any debris fall into the well. Place one end of the garden hose as far as possible into the well. Place the funnel into the other end of the hose and pour the contents of each bucket through the hose while alternately raising and lowering the hose to disperse the disinfectant throughout the water supply.

5. When the correct amount of disinfectant has been added, close the well cover if the well has no pump. If the well has a pump, draw the chlorinated water through all the fixtures and outlets until the smell of chlorine is noticed. This will ensure that all piping and fixtures are disinfected.

6. Leave the chlorinating solution in the entire water supply system for at least twelve hours, but preferably, overnight.

7. Flush the chlorinated water completely out of the water supply system by opening a tap. The system will be flushed when the chlorine odor is no longer detectable.

8. After 7 to 10 days, sample water for coliform bacteria. If bacteria are detected, repeat disinfection procedure as many times as necessary until bacteria are no longer detected. If water becomes contaminated again after a short time, it is important to identify and remove the source of contamination.


Whether maintained by professionals or the homeowner who has access to approved procedures, there are significant responsibilities associated with private well ownership. Well owners should adopt a multi-barrier approach to safeguard their drinking water from contaminants that includes regular monitoring for waterborne pathogens and prompt disinfection when needed. It's a responsibility that can mean the difference between illness and health for families relying on private well water.

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