Clean Well Water

Easily detect well Contamination

Never wonder whether a flood has contaminated your well!

Typical residential well casing

Water level detection tool

build your own Flood Level detector

Parts and prices (Total price: $4.50)

  1. Wooden stick
  2. Nails - 2.5 in (small heads)
  3. Stiff wire - 1.5 ft
  4. Clamp for holding wire
  5. 2 empty water bottles (Optionally can use anything that floats) (Video shows 1 bottle, but afterwards we found that two bottles works better.)
  6. 2 flexible wires - 6 in


  1. Hammer nails into wood in a slanted angle. Nails should be spaced 2-3 inches apart along the wood. (The closer together you place the nails, the more accurate your flood level reading will be.)
  2. Do the same on the opposite side of the wood.
  3. Use stiff wire and clamp to make a ring. Ring should be about 5 inches diameter. Make sure it is just wide enough to be able to get around the nails on the way up, but gets caught going down.
  4. Unscrew bottle caps. Coil flexible wire around top of bottle, and twist the excess wire twice. Screw on bottle cap to hold wire. Do this for both bottles.
  5. Attach bottles to the stiff wire ring by tying excess wire. Bottles should be on opposite sides of the ring. Use duct tape to keep from sliding if necessary.
  6. Mount wooden stick into ground near water well.
  7. Place ring at bottom of stick.

How It Works

If a flood happens, the flood water should lift the bottles and the ring up the stick. When the water goes down, the ring should get caught on the slanted nails and show you how high the water got.

If the ring is higher than the well, then flood water may have gotten into your well, and you should get the water tested.

If the ring is lower than your well, then you should be okay.

(Note: The water level may have been anywhere between the height of the head of the slanted nail that the ring is on and the next nail head upwards from it.)

Expert quotes

“People on municipal water systems routinely have their water tested for them by the municipality (village, town, city, rural water district, etc.) operating the water system to insure that it is safe to drink. Because there is nobody to do this for them, this responsibility falls on those people that get their drinking water from a private well. This would give those well owners a warning if potential contamination occurred during the flooding event by alerting them if their well site had been inundated by flood water.”

-John Wilson, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension, University of Nebraska

(Team leader for the Iowa-Nebraska Extension Flood Response Team during the 2011 Missouri River Flood)

"This creative solution has the potential to provide an economically efficient means to identify possible contamination of drinking water and thus provide for protection of human health in a resource strained society. "

-Kristina Ekholm, Chief of Water Management Section, US Army Corps of Engineers