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Has anyone had to shock your well with chlorine for possible bacteria contamination

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  • Has anyone had to shock your well with chlorine for possible bacteria contamination

    Looking at possibly having to do this after horses not feeling well from possible well contamination. Concerned about having to do this and how long to wait before it would be safe for horses to drink the water again.
    Anyone else go through this?

  • #2
    We had to do it years ago when we had bad rest results on a house well and then we did it on purpose another time when a friend had a horse on his place that had strangles. We bleached the well and then sprayed down the barn and panels, truck and trailer ect-it was an endless supply of bleach water!

    It's been a long time but as I recall you just run the water until it doesn't taste or smell of bleach (or runs dry, depending on your well) and I don't remember it taking more than a couple hours of running every hose full out.

    Ours tested clean immediately after we bleached it; just run another test.
    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


    • #3
      I shocked my well after I had a new pump installed, which stirred up a lot of sediment. There are on-line articles about how to do it. You must calculate the volume of water in the well, then add the appropriate amount of chlorine. Then you run all the taps just until you smell the chlorine. Then turn them off and let the chlorine sit in the system for 12 hours. Then turn on the taps again until the chlorine smell is gone.

      Have you done a water test?
      My Equestrian Art Photography page


      • Original Poster

        Yes we did a full health scan which did not show anything out of the ordinary but I guess viruses are hard to detect in water. We are lugging in water every day from my neighbors. Ugh! Horses start to not feel well again when we try putting back on water so that is all we have to go on. They are doing a full well insp and disinfection on fri. I am concerned how soon it is safe after disinfection for horses to start using water again.


        • #5
          We used the Clorox bleach that is industrial strength (can't think of the percentage off hand). Run it down your well be careful to make sure it coats all sides. Went back in side turn on all faucets till you smell it, shut off. We let it sit overnight, and when we got up in the AM turn on all faucets till smell is almost gone. Remember the hot water heater needs to be ran dry too. Make sure to run washing machine & dish washer for a nice cleaning while doing this as well.

          Coming from LI where there was city water, we strongly dislike our well water and refuse to drink it or give it to the dogs. We also have a water treatment system on ours with a filter and a UV light to help. After storms our water smells funky so we shock the well (surrounding farmland, underground springs, etc reak havoc on well). The barn has a water treatment system as well. We use dto be were there was none, and the horses drink SO much better now.


          • #6
            We've done it when we've replaces a pump, and of course when we dug the new well. Our wells are very deep (over 700ft) and we are in wildlands so we don't have to worry much about ag. run-off, but some people do recommend shocking the well every year or so.

            It's a pretty simple process, as described by others, and the water should be fine once it doesn't smell of chlorine any longer. I wouldn't hesitate to do it if you are having water issues. I'd also look at how you are filtering your water.


            • #7
              We did our well in NC. We used a container (? size) of swimming pool chlorine. Same procedure as mentioned.
              Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


              • #8
                Is there a possibility some frack mining has been going on near by?

                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                • #9
                  Yes, we have done it several times and it is quite common. I have been told that it is recommended that you shock your well every two or three years.


                  • #10
                    OP what are their symptoms? Curious.

                    If you're worried about the disinfection being effective, I would say all you can do is try it and see if nothing showed up in the first test.

                    If you're worried about the bleach, I wouldn't be. As long as you/they run the water until it no longer smells like bleach (if your sniffer still works after smelling all the bleach in the first place) it's fine. Run it a little extra for good measure. A little bleach water never killed anyone anyway.
                    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                    • #11
                      I do this yearly. Our water source is a spring fed holding tank, and I have abundant springs behind my house. Never lose water pressure - even when the power is off, and the pump can't run.

                      Funny how those mention not liking well water. Ours is the best tasting in the world, but because it's from a spring, the source is closer to the ground, so has to be dealt with more often. I can't stand the constantly chlorinated/treated taste of city water. Do you know how crappy some city water system pipes are, compared to an individual well?

                      I've run a couple of gallons of regular clorox in the holding tank, and flushed the water until you can smell the chlorine and stop. Leave it in the system for several (believe we did 12) hours, then run it again until you can't smell it strongly any longer. It may take some time to get all the smell out entirely. But be careful. In truth, I have a couple of guys do it in return for my allowing them to hunt my property. One year they got overzealous, and put too much bleach through. (I believe 5 gallons?!?) You need to find a chart to measure for the size of your well/holding tank. What happened is that it loosened up a lot of crap that had never been loosened (nor needed to be!) and sediment, etc. showed up in my water for some time, and temporarily bolluxed up the dishwasher. So go online and look for a good way to configure what you need for your system.

                      I also have my water tested from time to time. To be honest, because the cover for the tank is wearing, it is not even always pure after shocking it. I've had a miniscule reading of coloform, but those that know water at the health department agreed it is only a big issue if anyone is drinking it with a compromised immune system. However, it would not pass any FHA requirements, which is zero, so would have to be corrected if I ever sold. FHA requirements are the guide for all mortgages. I think my reading was like 1-2 parts per hundred.

                      My dog had had intermittent bouts of diarrhea from giarrhdea/beaver fever, after walking in the woods, and licking from puddles, wet spots, in contaminated areas - not on my property. There's as much, if not more of a chance of something being picked up in groundwater vs. well water.

                      One final thing - you want to be sure your water source isn't located near something contaminating it. My sister moved to a nice house in the burbs with horse neighbors up the hill - whose pasture, or manure pile, ran off right towards my sister's well. Took some doing to prove the source of the contamination. Fortunately they were only renting, so didn't have to remain to wait for the outcome of the case.
                      But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


                      • #12
                        My former BO had to do that. She and her husband had bought some low land, complete with a septic tank that backed up, and had 65 show bunnies plus all the horses. And no manure management. I told her that she needed to have the well water tested, as her entire family had, well stomach problems. And then one of her ponies did also. (They had lived there about 5 yrs before I moved there, with no thoughts to what was causing problems.)

                        So I bought bleach, cleaned my horse and his girlfriend's water buckets and water trough with bleach often, and let it ride. A few years AFTER I moved there, BO finally decided to listen to me, and had well water tested. Lots of anaerobic bacteria in it. So the well people came out and put bleach in the well. I continued to use bleach to rinse out water buckets and the water trough often. Bleach is what the army at Ft Jackson tells the troops to rinse their canteens out with, according to a friend's niece who visited our barn, when my BO said bleach was bad for horses. Anaerobic bacteria are worse than bleach. My first BO used bleach to clean out troughs in the paddocks.

                        I'd used bleach before, but not as often as I did in our 3 yrs at that barn. And I kept a bottle of Metrodinazole, I think that is how it is spelled, handy for any horse that got diarrhea.

                        As for length of time you should wait before drinking the well water, I'd think that your county agent would be able to tell you that. I don't think it would be more than a day or so but I'm not an expert, and don't know how much bleach went into the well.

                        There are a lot of organisms swimming around in well water. But think of this: When I lived in Atlanta, one day a body was found in our water source. A human body. So all that chlorine bleach that was put in our city water to kill all the waste dumped into it upstream, also took care of the DB germs.


                        • Original Poster

                          Symptoms are GI cramping, tons of gas and some respiratory. Very lethargic for weeks. No temp discharge ect, pretty good app for grain, picking at hay. Their coats look very dull. They look like they have a headache a lot of the time. All five horses same symptoms. Vet is very suspicious of water. Tested low levels of iron bacteria and one other but no Coliform or E. coli. They said our results look very typical for most wells. I don't usually drink our water but I did and several hours later came own with sore throat and stomach ache. This all started immediately after the large blizzard here on the east coast. Reovirus in water is supposed to be GI and resp but viruses are not reported in testing.


                          • #14
                            Metronidazole (aka Flagyl) works on giardia protozoa and a few other things. Vet should recommend how to use it, as giardia are stubborn buggers and Metronidazole works on a few other things as well.

                            Oh, and we regularly shock the people wells around here if our water testing turns up coliforms. same procedure, but usually it doesn't take much pool-concentration chlorine to shock a hand-pump well. 12 hours should be plenty of time. Only other caveat: careful if you have hard water. Chlorine will precipitate out the calcium and that can cause trouble with certain piping if there are already constricted spots.
                            HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
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                            • #15
                              OP, I'd be specifically testing for Giardia with those symptoms. And I'd bleach that well without a second thought.


                              • #16
                                You are wasting your time with bleach. Your well, naturally, taps into the groundwater. The bacteria are found here and giardia is present in every water supply in North America. "Shocking" a well just temporarily removes the bacteria that are in the well itself for a short period of time, hence it will test "clean" afterwards. However, they will return in short order -- remember in middle school, in the water cycle all things are connected? It's true.

                                If you are having water quality problems with your well, you need to install a UV treatment system, which will not only kill bacteria, but viruses, algae, and other contaminants. There is greater initial up-front cost, but after installation, you only have to replace bulbs at the recommended intervals and you get peace of mind about your water.

                                Chlorine (bleach) treatment is an antiquated approach to water treatment and is not all that safe to ingest over time anyway, as it can lead to endocrine disruption, digestive system cancers, and other health issues (you can google it if you want to horrify yourself). It also produces breaks down into carcinogenic by-products. Education is slowly spreading and more municipalities and homeowners are switching to UV, but it always takes time. I strongly recommend all well-users to look into it, we use it here.

                                --A PSA from your friendly neighbourhood aquatic biologist
                                Last edited by wildlifer; Mar. 20, 2013, 01:22 PM. Reason: spelling
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