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Idaho officials warn residents of potential danger in drinking well water after a flood

UPDATED: Thu., March 23, 2017, 10:43 p.m.

Water from the Spokane River makes it's way through the Post Falls dam floodgates while the spring thaw continues on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Water from the Spokane River makes it's way through the Post Falls dam floodgates while the spring thaw continues on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Officials are warning residents of the potential danger in drinking well water after a flood.

Citing information from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the agencies said drinking water from residential wells can be compromised during extensive flooding, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Management announced in a press release. Under flood conditions, the release states, contaminated surface water may enter directly into underground water sources, bypassing the natural filtering process.

They recommended checking water quality after flooding recedes, including issues with color and taste.

If any of these problems exist, they recommend to stop using the well water for human consumption and instead use bottled water or boiled water as an alternative, and to have the well tested for coliform bacteria.

The agencies also warned of damaged or failing sewage systems, including the possibility that some could be leaking into other water supplies.

As of 6:45 p.m. Thursday, the Spokane River in Spokane was at 28.52 feet after it crested at about 28.7 feet early Wednesday morning. It’s forecasted to continue receding.

Lake Coeur d’Alene also is receding and should be below flood level on Monday.

Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, public works information and outreach manager for Spokane County Emergency Management, said Spokane County residents on wells that suspect contamination should contact the Spokane Regional Health District.


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