RALEIGH — Hurricane Matthew’s severe flooding across central and eastern North Carolina has affected water quality and availability in certain eastern North Carolina public water systems. State officials also encourage citizens with septic and private well systems to be mindful of water usage after the storm.
“Boil water advisories are issued if there is a possibility of contamination in the drinking water system that could make you sick,” said state health director Randall Williams, M.D. “This could lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Following local advisories is important to keep you and your family healthy in the aftermath of flooding.”
Residents who are on a public water system that lost pressure during or after the storm should follow the directions of local emergency officials and their water utility and not resume normal water use habits until the system has been checked and deemed safe for human consumption.
Boil water advisories are currently in place in portions of the following counties: Bladen, Carteret, Chatham, Chowan, Columbus, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Franklin, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Perquimans, Robeson, Sampson, Wake, Wayne and Wilson. The latest information on water systems is available at: https://pws.ncwater.org/PETS/pages/default.aspx
If water from a water system is cloudy, it should be strained through a clean cloth, and then boiled for at least one minute before consumption.
Citizens who use well water need to take precautions. If the well head was covered by flood waters, it should be tested by public health officials, even if the pump still works. State public health officials urge homeowners to contact their local health department to have wells tested if they have any doubts about the water.
Additionally, if a septic system has flooded, extreme water conservation practices are urged. Follow these tips when dealing with flooded septic systems:
— Flush toilets only when necessary
— Take sponge baths and do not run water while brushing teeth, shaving or cooking
— Contact your county health department before doing maintenance or repairs
— Keep pets and children out of standing water over the septic system
— If you must be around the system, wash your hands often
The septic system may not work until the water table has dropped below the septic tank. Large systems will not start working again until the operator has inspected and restarted them.
For more information, go to ReadyNC.org or download the free ReadyNC app.