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March 10, 2015

MADISON -- As spring approaches, the warming temperatures, snow melt, residual frozen ground and rain all create conditions that can affect wells and drinking water.

"Now is the time of year for well owners to watch for signs of flooding and to notice any change in the color, smell or taste of their drinking water," said Liesa Lehmann, DNR private water section chief. Well owners who observe flooding or changes in their water should assume their wells are contaminated and take the following steps:

Flood waters and runoff contain bacteria and other contaminants that can affect water supplies and cause water-borne illness. Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination. Even without obvious signs of flooding, a well can become contaminated.

"Disinfection and sampling is best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer," Lehmann said.

Any water supply system that has been submerged by flood waters should be pumped out once the floodwater recedes, then thoroughly disinfected and tested to determine that the water is safe. Well owners are encouraged to test their wells annually for bacteria and nitrates, to check for problems and ensure the water is safe to drink.

More information on bacteriological contamination of drinking water wells, along with lists of licensed well drillers, pump installer and labs certified to analyze water samples are available by searching the DNR website,, for "wells."

For individuals who receive their drinking water from a public water supply, these systems are designed and operated to keep out contaminants. If you have concerns about the safety of your community's drinking water, contact your public water supplier.

For more information about private wells, join a "Ask the Experts" online chat on March 24 at noon. Employees from the department will be available to answer your questions about private wells. Go to and click on the top banner to join the chat.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Liesa Lehmann, DNR private water section chief,, 608-267-7649; Marty Nessman, DNR private water field supervisor, 608-267-2449,

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 10, 2015

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