After a Flood: Drinking Water Guidance

Sand Bar State Park Flooding

Water may not be safe to drink, cook or clean with after an emergency such as a flood. During and after flooding, water can become contaminated with microorganisms—such as bacteria, sewage, heating oil, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals, and other substances that can cause serious illness.

Call the Drinking Water Program at 802-863-7220 or 800-439-8550 (toll free in Vermont) for guidance.


  • Baby formula until a water test confirms it is safe
  • Any purpose if water has the smell of petroleum or chemicals.

People with private drinking water wells in flooded areas should assume their water is contaminated.

Take all precautions if:

  • The well was covered with floodwaters or located near flooding
  • There has been a change in water quality (smell or taste)

Until a water test confirms that the water is safe, get water from a known safe source or boil for 1 minute to use for:

  • Drinking
  • Cooking
  • Making juice or ice
  • Washing fruit and vegetables
  • Brushing teeth

If you have a private drinking water well that has been affected by flooding, you may need to disinfect your water supply and get your water tested.

Emergency Information