Record rainfall has flooded much of Whatcom County, displacing many from their homes and causing a lot of damage. Flood water can also contaminate wells and septic systems and make you sick if you come into contact with it. Make sure you take care around flood water both during the flood and when cleaning up after.
Paddle boarders and kayakers, this one’s for you! We know it might *seem* fun to test out new waters, but floodwater contains unknown and unseen hazards of all sorts - debris, bacteria, needles, trash, and who knows what else. It’s best to avoid any unnecessary contact with floodwater. Save the boating for safer and cleaner waters.
Limit use of your septic system - or better yet, don’t use it at all. If there is standing water on the ground around your septic system, the ground will not absorb wastewater from sinks or toilets. Too much water in the septic drainfield causes the septic system to overload, slowing down or stopping the treatment of wastewater. When this occurs, you run the risk of your septic waste backing up into your home, particularly if your drainfield is partially clogged.
Wait until the ground has dried before using your septic system again. When it’s safe to start using your septic again, follow these tips:
Still have questions about when it’s safe to use your septic system again?
If your drinking water comes from a well and your well is flooded, assume it is unsafe to drink. Do not drink water from your well until it has been serviced, disinfected, and you know the water is not contaminated. Until you can have it serviced, drink only bottled or purified water.
If your drinking water comes from a public water system, contact them if you’re unsure if it’s safe to drink. You can find contact information on your water bill.
If your well is affected by flooding, follow these steps:
Still have questions?
While it’s important to limit unnecessary contact with flood water, it’s also likely you’ll have to get your hands dirty during and after the flood. Fortunately, there’s a few steps you can take to keep yourself safe from flood water:
Hours without power
Temperature 45°F or below
Temperature 51°F or above
Floodwaters from Swift Creek and the Sumas River carry naturally occurring asbestos from Sumas Mountain. If you live or work in the areas around Everson, Nooksack, and Sumas, you may be exposed to asbestos in floodwater, or in mud and sediment left behind. You can take steps to limit your exposure to asbestos from floodwaters and protect your health. Learn more in our fact sheet here: https://bit.ly/3qY3fvQ
Finally, stay updated on the latest flood-related information from Whatcom County government:
And stay safe and healthy, everyone!