An estimated 1 million private wells are in danger of being at risk due to the recent flooding in the Midwest. The wells offer some areas their only supply of drinking water. The contamination from the flood waters is a very high concern, one that could very well linger long after the flooding is gone. It is then in many states that the next phase of spring will hit—that of the melting snow.
The flooding has come from the mighty Missouri and Mississippi rivers, as well as their smaller, outer contributary rivers. As a result, many states in the middle of the US have been inundated with massive amounts of flood waters, stretching from the Canadian border all the way south to as far as Kentucky.
The National Weather Service has already issued an advisory warning of the coming snowmelt in the upper northern states that is yet to come, which could pose an additional problem that may cause flooding to very well persist well into the spring.
The flood waters, during such an event as this years has been, will rise so high that they are prone to carry raw sewage from the animal waste on the land, the pesticide from the farm fields, any spilled fuel that may be present, and even possibly the contents from overburdened treatment plants.
Assistant chief of the Missouri Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, Steve May, pretty much summed it up—‘Whatever was on the land is in the water now." That very water is feared to being to contaminate the groundwater of all of the surrounding source wells in the area.
Flood water is a breeding ground, that can be a carrier for all types of nasty bacteria and viruses, including the well known E. Coli—which according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) can present with gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Those that are shown to be the most vulnerable to the bacteria are those of infant and young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those individuals with a compromised immune system.
Even once the flood waters recede, standing stagnant water may very well still be present, which is what causes the concern that the contaminated water may actually make it to the local wells groundwater supply.
Leisa Lehman, a section chief of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warns “Anyone who has a private well within a flood plain area of a major river, those wells are certainly going to be vulnerable to contamination.”
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Should future preventative measures, if possible, be put in place to protect the well systems of those rural area residents?