As floodwaters rise across Minnesota, the state is warning well owners about the possibility of water contamination.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued a news release Wednesday cautioning against using water from private wells for drinking, cooking or brushing teeth due to potential health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consuming contaminated water can cause diarrheal disease, including E. Coli or Salmonella infection.
There are multiple steps that can be taken to reduce water contamination before flood water reaches a well. MDH recommends having a licensed well inspector check for changes, as well as repairing damaged casing.
If flood water comes in contact with a well, it should not be used for drinking or cooking until it has been properly decontaminated, according to MDH. It is also recommended that well owners keep a supply of clean water on hand that will last a few days.
To decontaminate water, do not approach the well until the power is disconnected to avoid electrical shock. MDH strongly advises contacting a licensed well contractor to inspect and help disinfect the well by clearing out sediment and debris.
After inspection, MDH said, contact a county health department or accredited laboratory to have water tested for coliform bacteria.
Even if flood water comes within 50 feet of a well but does not reach it, MDH recommends testing the water for bacteria. Wells do not have to be disinfected until they are tested.