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MAT-SU — Following the massive earthquake that shook Southcentral Alaska Friday morning and continues to send aftershocks, many Valley residents have been hearing conflicting information concerning the quality of their water. Lisa Humphreys, who owns Ace Water Wells, said that the Department of Environmental Conservation has a wealth of knowledge on its website, and encourages homeowners with wells to direct their research there.
Humphreys said residents in homes connected to city water likely have nothing to worry about. Any of the murky or dirty water coming out after the shake likely had a higher concentration of sediments and silt, but that is more often seen with individual wells. Any residual sediments coming from city water sources likely shook off from the pipes and will be cleared quickly.
Humphreys recommends different methods for different water sources. If the well is a low-output well with low gallons-per-minute availability, it is likely best to use as little water as possible to let the sediments settle, she said. If it is a higher output well, for dirty water, Humphreys recommends running a garden hose away from the house until the visible dirt is gone. The simplest way to test if the water has been affected is to fill a clear glass, she said, but Humphreys recommends having the water tested. Home water tests are sold by many of the water testing business around the Valley.
Humphreys said that Ace has been responding to a large number of calls since Friday morning. If the water looks more like mud, they’ve been asking folks to not use their water for a few days and see if it settles down. Other possible damages can come from broken or leaking pipes or pitlesses, which connect the main water line into the well. In some cases, heavy earth shifting can cause nitrates and other naturally occurring elements to contaminate water, but Humphreys says that those cases are extremely rare.
“A lot of people have dirty water in their wells,” Humphreys said.
Humphreys said that water issues will likely persist until the aftershocks have stopped. Aftershocks light enough that they may not be felt above ground will still be stirring the aquifers underneath the ground. Humphreys said that a smell of sulfur in the water indicates that the aquifer a well is drawn from may have coal seams that exist in many locations throughout the Valley.