Tricounty News

Private well owners in flooded areas should take precautions



Private well owners who dealt with recent flooding should be aware that water wells contaminated with flood water can pose a health risk.Ê Well owners should take precautions if their well has been flooded.

The following steps are recommended if a well is flooded:

* Disconnect the power supply of the well. If help is needed, consult with a licensed well contractor or pump installer.

* If flood waters cover the top of the water well casing, water from the well should not be used for drinking or cooking until the floodwater recedes and the well is disinfected and tested. Until then, use bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth.

After the flood waters recede, if the water reached the well casing, assume the well is contaminated. Take the following steps to make sure the well is safe:

* If the well was not capped or sealed prior to the flooding, have a professional well driller clean out any sediment. Using a well pump to flush out the well could ruin the pump.

* Disinfect the well yourself or have a well contractor disinfect the well. Disinfect using a chlorine solution before having it tested.

* After disinfecting the well and pumping out the chlorine solution, contact a testing laboratory about submitting a water sample. Tell the lab staff the well needs to be tested for bacteria. They will give instructions and provide a bottle for the sample. To find a lab go to www.health.state.mn.us/labsearch.

* Be prepared to repeat the disinfection and testing process several times if necessary, to ensure the well is free of bacterial contamination.

* Don't drink water from the well until the lab has confirmed that it is safe and free of bacterial contamination.

If flood water came within 50 feet of the well, but did not reach the wellhead:

* Consider having the water tested as a precaution.

* It's not necessary to disinfect the well before having it tested.

If water did not come within 50 feet of the well, do nothing and the well should be fine.