WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Flood May Cause Problems for Private Wells

Apr 23, 2013

The recent heavy rains and flooding have caused problems for the water supplies in the tri-states.

Macomb recently issued a boil order that lasted for two days. Though those who live in towns are not the only ones who may have problems with their water.

Flooded Farmland Near Duncan Mills.
Credit Scott Stuntz

In rural areas many farmsteads have their own private wells.

Gary Letterly is an energy and  environmental stewardship educator  with the University of Illinois Extension.

He said the water from these wells is untreated and the chance for contamination can increase after flooding.

He said it is a good idea to get wells tested after flooding if the water looks or smells different. Letterly also cautioned that water could be contaminated even if there are no visible changes.

"There is a chance of certainly of  e-coli or coliform bacteria that could be present and not be observed by the naked eye," Letterly said.

He said the most vulnerable wells are older “large diameter bored wells.” These wells are not capped as well as more modern wells and can let in floodwater if overtopped.

Letterly also said that those moving to rural areas should make sure to verify that their water is safe.