Flood Water Contamination
Posted at: 06/27/2012 10:59 AM
| Updated at: 06/27/2012 11:23 AM
By: Brittany Falkers
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is reminding folks to avoid contact with flood water, but that warning does not apply to lake superior beaches outside the Duluth harbor area.
State and local public health officials say to avoid unnecessary contact with flood water. Flood water may be contaminated with sewage, disease-causing germs and other potential contaminates, according to Amy Westbrook, Duluth District Epidemiologist for MDH.
"As much as possible, people should avoid swimming, playing or other contact with flood water," Westbrooks said. "In particular, they should avoid swallowing it."
Officials are emphasizing that the warning does not apply to Lake Superior outside of the Duluth harbor area, or to the beaches along the shore of the lake. The concern, officials say, is with flooded areas along rivers and waterways that flow into the lake.
That warning of contaminated waters has the department urging caution to residents with private wells. Residents of northeastern Minnesota whose private water wells may have been contaminated by flooding should test their wells before using their well water, according to MDH.
"People should assume their private well is contaminated with potentially hazardous, disease-causing bacteria if the well casing was under water, or the flood water came within 50 feet of the wellhead," Aggie Leitheiser, Assistant Minnesota Commissioner of Health, said.
Testing kits are free and available from local public health agencies. Free water test kits, including sample bottles and instructions for sending water samples to an MDH laboratory, are available from local public health agencies in counties affected by the recent flooding:
- Aitkin County: 1-888-900-2138
- Carlton County Planning and Zoning Office: 218-384-9176
- Lake County Public Health: 218-834-8400
- Pine County Health and Human Services: 320-216-4100
- St. Louis County Public Health Department: 218-725-5210
For more information on testing and disinfecting wells you can call the MDH Northeastern District Office at (218) 723-4642, and the MDH Central Office at (651) 201-4600. More info is also available at the MDH Website.