Private well owners warned of possible contamination from flooding

NEGAUNEE — County health officials are urging residents in flooded areas to check their drinking water.

Officials from the Marquette County Health Department say heavy rains can create conditions that affect private wells and drinking water. For those who live in an area that was recently or is currently flooded, private wells may be in danger of contamination from pollutants carried in the flood waters.

Well owners who observe flooding or changes in their water should assume that their wells are contaminated and take the following steps:

  • Stop drinking the water and find an alternate source of safe water to drink.
  • Make sure your well is properly disinfected.
  • Before resuming consumption of the water, sample the well after pumping and disinfection to make sure water is safe.

Flood waters and runoff contain bacteria and other contaminants that can affect supplies and cause water-borne illness. Wells located in pits, basements, and low-lying areas are especially susceptible, and even without obvious signs of flooding, officials say a well can become contaminated.

Officials advise that disinfection and sampling work are best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer, and any system that has been submerged by flood water should be pumped out once the water recedes, followed by thorough disinfection and testing.

Click here for a guide to disinfecting your water supply. Private well owners are encouraged to test wells annually for bacteria and nitrates, to check for problems, and to ensure water is safe to drink. Water sampling bottles are available at the Marquette County Health Department, local water laboratories, the Marquette Water Filtration Plant, and the Ishpeming Area Waste Water Treatment Plant.