Health officials: Well water may be contaminated - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Health officials: Well water may be contaminated

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Public health officials are now warning homeowners who use wells or springs that their water may not be safe to drink if their homes have experienced flooding due to heavy rainfall.

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"We don't advise cooking with the water, showering or bathing," said Raymond King, Director of Environmental Health at the North Georgia Health District in Dalton.

Unlike public water systems, wells are easily contaminated.

"Bacteria, viruses, chemicals, even manure from farms. When (wells) are covered with flood waters, most of them get contaminated, one way or another," King explained.

While homeowners with contaminated flooded wells can still flush their toilets, King advises them to buy their drinking water. Any food touched by flood waters should also be tossed in the trash.

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"There's no need to take a risk, even if they're canned or foods in jars," he said. "Just throw the food away."

Homeowners with flooded wells should use bleach to disinfect it, and wait at least 8 hours before flushing the system. Water samples should then be dropped off at a public health lab for testing to determine if the well is safe to drink.

"We're not saying everybody who drinks a contaminated well is going to get sick, but we're especially concerned about small children and people with compromised immune systems," King said.

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