Flooding is a devastating natural disaster that, in Australia, we’re only too familiar with. But it’s the clean-up and aftermath that causes so much stress and anguish for those who have to live through having their lives turned upside down.
One overlooked, and exceptionally important, step in the clean up process is your water supply!
For those living on rainwater tanks, when it floods, your drinking supply storage system will not only accumulate more sediment than usual, it also has all the bacteria, viruses and parasites that are present in the dirty/filthy water that has flooded your property.
This water will also contaminate every pipe and tap in your house. The risk to your household is extreme, and requires a proper cleaning and sanitisation to ensure you can have clean healthy drinking water.
Sanitise your tanks and your pipes/taps
Before you can start to consumer water from your rainwater tanks, you need to ensure your tanks and pipework have been cleaned and sanitised.
Even if you are able to remove all the dirt and sediment from your water tanks, bacteria can remain. When your tanks are refilled with clean fresh water, that bacteria remains and will only breed. This is when you can fall ill, even though your tanks look clean.
Sanitising your water tanks is a necessity after flooding. At Pristine Water Systems, we use our own food grade water sanitiser – AqueousPro™. This sanitiser does not use harmful chemicals such as Chlorine and naturally breaks down. It is highly effective in killing bacteria and viruses, is odourless, and will not affect your wastewater systems.
Tips on what to do if you experience Flooding
The following checklist will help ensure you have healthy drinking water if your rainwater tanks are flooded:
Debris – Organic material
During floods, leaves and twigs are ripped off trees. Winds will pick it up and your roof is a perfect catchment. Even if your house has not been completely flooded and destroyed, your roof will still have dirt and debris that will be washed down into your storage tanks with the next rain.
If you have gutter guards, you will need these to be cleaned out. Probably removed altogether. They will be full of dirt and sediment.
Flooding water tanks will also pick up any of the ground material in your area. From dirty creek water through to local animal faeces. All of this is mixed in as a horrible cocktail that will make you sick.
So the first step is to ensure you thoroughly clean out your tank. This will mean draining the water and removing the organic sludge that is left behind.
Strainers and Overflows
Quite often strainers are damaged during floods.
If not secured properly, they can be blown away. However, with all the organic debris flying around and getting washed down through the pipes, the strainer (which is doing its job), accumulates a large amount of debris. Much more than normal.
With the additional water mass that comes with storms, there is a lot of pressure on these strainers. This can cause weaknesses or breakages.
Check your water tanks for damage and anything that requires replacing. Aside from the strainers, check overflow pipes and for any damage to the tank.
First Flush or Diverter systems
As good as these systems might sound, they are not the most effective method in keeping debris out of your water tanks.
Stagnant water will sit in these systems unless cleaned out. And if the ground has been flooded, then you will have all sorts of nasty material in there and this debris will still make its way into your water tanks.
Thoroughly jet wash your first flush and diverter units (if used). Check for damage and repair if necessary.
Pumps, Electrical systems and Filtration units
Hopefully your house is sound and safe during a flood. Even so, the pump to drive water from your tanks to your house, your filtration system and the power supply, are likely to have been underwater.
You will need a qualified electrician to assess and evaluate the power supply. This may be ok, but even though they are usually rated for all weather conditions, flooding will ruin the power box. So this may need to be replaced.
Your pump system typically sits on the ground. These are not submersible systems, so it will be likely that this needs to be replaced.
Filtration units will also need servicing. It is best to replace all filters, sanitise the system, and if you have an Ultraviolet unit, this may require replacement of power supply (ballast) and a servicing of the lamp/quartz.
Sanitise your rainwater tank, pipes, and taps
While many people who live off water tanks might think fresh rainwater tastes great and is the healthiest water for you, it’s what you can’t see in your water that makes you ill.
Rain is naturally low in pH, can bring with it fallout from pesticides and herbicides (especially for those living in agricultural areas), and is only as clean as the roof it is coming from!
Bacteria can build up quickly in a water tank after flooding subsides and the weather improves. Temperatures start to rise after storms, and when organic debris has accumulated inside a water tank, this is when bacteria breeds. Hence it is extremely important to sanitise the water to ensure there is no bacteria present.
Action after a storm
First thing you need to do after a storm, other than checking your home and livestock, is to check your water tank.
- Is the strainer blocked or damaged?
- Clear debris, and if damaged, remove.
- Is there any damage to the water tank itself?
- Is the overflow clear of debris?
- Roof and sidewalls damaged?
- Clear gutters, pipes and roofs from any additional debris
- 3-days after storm has passed, check if you can see the bottom of the tank
- Dirt, debris and sludge will have settled after a few days
- Vacuum and sanitise the tank
Pristine Water Systems uses our unique Quadclean™ method to clean, sanitise and make your water supply healthy and ready for drinking. If you need assistance, especially after a storm, we can help to make sure your water tanks are clean and sterilised.