OLMSTED CO., Minn. – Olmsted County’s Health Services and Environmental Resources Departments are warning people that flooding and surface water runoff from heavy rains and flash floods could cause contamination of private drinking water wells.
Flood or surface water that enters a well can contain harmful bacteria, viruses or chemicals. Wells that are most vulnerable are located in flood-prone areas, where surface water may accumulate near the well, below ground level or in drainage ways or surface depressions.
In contaminated well systems, you may notice a change in the water’s appearance, smell or taste, but contamination also could not be noticeable at all. Water from a flooded well shouldn’t be used for drinking or cooking until the well and water system have been flushed out, disinfected and tested. Until tests show that the water isn’t contaminated, officials recommend using bottled or municipal water as an alternate source.
If flood water came within 50 feet but didn’t reach the well, officials still recommend having the water tested. Municipal water systems aren’t vulnerable to these risks and are generally considered to be safe water sources.
Private well owners can test their drinking water at Olmsted County Environmental Resources. Homeowners can also consult professional contractors/pump installers.