Warming temperatures, snow melt, rain and lingering frozen ground can create conditions that affect private wells and drinking water.
“Our recent rain, mixed precipitation and local flooding throughout the state are a reminder that changing spring weather can lead to well contamination,” said Liesa Lehmann, DNR private water section chief. “At this time of year, we encourage well owners to watch for signs of flooding and note any change in the color, smell or taste of their drinking water.”
Owners who see flood waters very near or over their wells should assume their drinking water could be contaminated. Take the following steps:
• Stop drinking the water, and find a safe alternative source.
• Once the waters recede, make sure the well is properly disinfected.
• Before drinking the water again, sample the well to ensure the water is safe.
Flood waters and rain runoff may contain bacteria and other contaminants that can affect water supplies and cause illness. Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination.
“Disinfection and sampling are best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer,” said Lehmann. Any water-supply system that has been submerged by flood waters should be pumped out once the flood water recedes, then thoroughly disinfected and tested to determine that the water is safe, she adds.To ensure safe drinking water, well owners are encouraged to learn whether they have a properly constructed well and test it annually for bacteria. More information on bacterial contamination of drinking-water wells, along with lists of licensed well drillers, pump installers and labs certified to analyze water samples is available on the DNR’s website.