Minnesota Residents Urged To Test Wells Contaminated From Flooding

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Residents of northwestern Minnesota who suspect their private water wells have been contaminated by flooding need to test them before using their well water, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Testing kits are free and available from local public health agencies.

People should assume their private well is contaminated with potentially hazardous, disease-causing bacteria if the well casing was under water or if floodwater came within 50 feet of the well, Minnesota Assistant Commissioner of Health John Linc Stine said.

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"Water from these wells should not be used for drinking or cooking until floodwater recedes and wells are tested," Stine said. "Wells that were in direct contact with floodwater should be flushed and disinfected before they are tested."

Until wells are found to be safe, people should use bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth. Another option is to boil well water before using it. To kill bacteria, bring well water to a full, rolling boil, and boil for at least one additional minute before using.

No special care is needed in using city or community water supplies. City water supply operators and staff from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) routinely monitor all city or community water supply systems. If the city's water supply becomes contaminated the city and MDH work together to notify residents promptly of any problems.

Private wells that test positive for contamination might need disinfecting and testing more than once. Well owners may want to consult a licensed well contractor for advice on well cleaning or to hire a contractor to disinfect their wells. MDH officials recommend contacting a licensed contractor to repair wells that have been damaged and to disinfect wells and distribution systems.

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