Flood water contaminating private water wells in MN

By KBJR News 1

Credit: Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Department of Health building in St. Paul, MN.

June 20, 2014 Updated Jun 25, 2014 at 10:43 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The recent heavy rain and flash flooding is putting some Minnesotans in potential danger. Flood water is making its way into private wells threatening residents.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is warning well owners that precautions may need to be taken, especially if your well is already flooded.

If flood conditions allow for it, MDH recommends the following:
–Store a supply of clean water before taking your well out of service.
–Disconnect the power supply for your well. See a contractor or pump installer if you need help.
–If you have time, have a well contractor install a water–tight cap or cover on your well temporarily.
–If you don't have time to have a professional install a watertight cap, clean off the outside of the well casing and cover the top of the well with a heavy–duty trash bag or some other form of heavy plastic sheeting. Secure the plastic covering with electrical tape or some other type of waterproof tape – not duct tape.
–Be prepared to have your well disinfected and tested after the flood waters recede, if your well does become flooded.
–If flood waters cover the top of the water well casing, water from your well should not be used for drinking or cooking until the floodwater recedes and the well is disinfected and tested.
–After the flood waters recede, if the water reached your well casing, assume your well is contaminated.

If your well is contaminated, MDH recommends the following:
–If your well was not protected prior to the flooding, have a professional well driller clean out any sediment and debris.
–Disinfect the well yourself or have a well contractor disinfect the well. Disinfect the well using a chlorine solution before having it tested.
–After disinfecting the well and pumping out the chlorine solution, contact a MDH–certified testing laboratory about submitting a water sample. Tell the lab staff you need to have your well tested for coliform bacteria – or simply "bacteria."
–Be prepared to repeat the disinfection and testing process several times.
–Don't drink water from your well until the lab has informed you that it is safe.

If flood water came within 50 feet of your well – but did not reach the wellhead, MDH recommends the following:
–You may still want to have your water tested as a precaution.
–You should not need to disinfect your well before having it tested.

For more information on well safety please click here.

Ramona Marozas