Water & Weather

With so much talk in the water industry about the effects drought and water scarcity have on water supply and quality, it can be strange to think about the fact that the opposite is also true—too much water also can negatively impact supply and quality.

California and Texas are two states that have seen both sides of the weather coin in the past few years. Just less than two years ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced mandatory water use reductions to combat the state’s years-long drought. This year, in January, back-to-back storms drenched the state, causing major flooding and mudslides, and even toppling one of California’s famous “tunnel tree” sequoias.

Such flooding can affect both water treatment plants and private water wells, potentially introducing contaminants and pathogens to the water supply—a situation all too familiar to Texas dealer Kevin Davitt, owner of Homer’s Soft Water. In 2016, the Houston area was in a similar predicament to California, when, after years of drought, days of torrential rainfall caused the Brazos River to overflow its banks.

Nearly a year later, Davitt’s well water customers are still seeing the effects of the flooding on their water quality. Many customers’ wellheads were inundated, and tests are still showing positive results for bacteria—according to Davitt, some customers even have ended up in the hospital as a result of the contamination. The dealership is doing all it can to test water, decontaminate wells and educate customers on the dangers associated with wells and flooding.

Flooding can have even more disastrous effects on water quality in developing nations. When Hurricane Matthew swept through the Caribbean in early October 2016, it drenched Haiti, causing massive flooding and destruction. With the developing nation still recovering from the devastating 2011 earthquake and in the throes of a cholera epidemic, water quality and supply concerns only worsened in the wake of the hurricane—and cholera cases have surged anew.

No matter where you are, weather affects drinking water. Hot or cold, wet or dry, earthquake or flood—weather and natural disasters have the power to alter water supply and water quality. For water dealers, staying abreast of the climate and weather, both long-term trends like droughts and acute events like storms, is key to helping customers handle any water quality issues that might arise.

What water and weather challenges have you faced in your service area? Email us at [email protected] to tell us your story.

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About the author

Kate Ferguson, editor-in-chief, [email protected]