Frequent Questions

If an outdoor source of water must be used during an emergency, what sources are best?

If it is necessary to select an outdoor emergency water source, remember that water from underground, such as that obtained from wells or springs, is less likely to contain contamination harmful to health than water from surface sources. However, if underground water is not available, look next for a creek, stream, lake, or pond--in that order, if a choice is possible. Avoid water having a dark color, an odor, or containing floating materials, as any one of these may indicate heavy pollution. If possible, surface water should be obtained upstream from an inhabited area, dipped from below the surface and purified (Water Supply Guidance #11, April 17, 1998). For guidance on home water purification and disinfection, please visit EPA's Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water Web site at

Have more questions? Submit a request