August 31, 2018
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

Department of Health Services Reminds Residents in Flooded Areas to Take Steps to Make Sure Their Water is Safe to Drink

Agency has tips for private well owners and municipal water users

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) wants to encourage residents in flooded areas to make sure their drinking water is safe, whether a resident has a private well or is on municipal water service.

Private well owners:

  • Do not use water from a private well that has been or is flooded.
  • If the water is cloudy, smells bad, or is colored, DO NOT DRINK IT.
  • Wait until floodwaters recede and test the well for contamination. While water is being tested, drink bottled water or water from a known, safe source. Water can also be boiled for one minute at a rolling boil to make it safe to drink. 
  • If you want to sample your water, a well water testing kit is available through your local health department. In flooded areas, testing kits can also be picked up at Multiple Agency Response Centers in your community. 
  • If you notice a change in water quality, or anytime there’s been flooding near your well, have it tested for bacteria contamination.
  • If contamination is found, disinfect the water supply.

Once you receive test results:

  • If the water sample shows bacteria are present, take another sample. If that sample is also unsafe, it’s recommended that you boil the water for at least one minute at a rolling boil before you use it.
  • If no bacteria are present in the test sample, you can consider the water safe to drink, but test it again in a month and pay attention for changes in its taste, smell, or color.

Municipal water users:

  • Turn on and run faucets for at least five minutes before using water for drinking or preparing food.
  • If a “boil water” notice is issued, follow the directions provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, your local water utility, or local health department.

This fact sheet from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has more information about keeping your private wells safe.