Department of Ecology News Release - August 28, 2015

Drinking water wells in fire areas should be protected
Lessons from Carlton Complex fire prompts urgency for inspections

UNION GAP, Wash. – Homeowners affected by wildfire are encouraged to inspect their drinking-water wells now to protect groundwater and their investment.

Forest fires can melt aluminum and plastic well caps, leaving the well exposed to environmental hazards. Uncapped wells can fill with rocks, mud and debris rendering the well unusable.

The Washington Department of Ecology says several lessons were learned about the impacts of forest fires on wells after the devastating Carlton Complex Fire of 2014.

“The intense rain storms that followed the Carlton Complex Fire caused mudslides in burned areas, destroying a number of wells that could not be repaired or properly decommissioned,” explained Avery Richardson, Ecology’s well coordinator in the Central Regional Office.

Wells with tight fitting caps mostly were undamaged by the debris flows, as the materials largely passed over them.

How to protect your well 

Other information is available on the state Department of Health’s drinking-water and wildfire webpage.


Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications, 509-575-2610; @ecyCentral