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E. Coli Left Behind By Boulder Floodwaters

Dan Greenwood

Residents with private wells in unincorporated areas of Boulder County are dealing with another side effect of the flooding. Their water may be unusable.

Boulder County tested 127 wells following the floods and over 68 percent  came back positive for Colifom and 35 percent for E. Coli.

The Environmental Health Planner for Boulder County Public Health, Rachel Arndt is says the county is only providing one free test per well.

“Because the numbers are so high with contamination we have recommended that homeowners shock

...ground water levels are so variable it's hard to tell when this will stop being an issue."

chlorinate their wells now before coming in and using up their free sample just because almost 70 percent of the wells are contaminated.”

Arndt says there have been no reported cases of sickness from the contamination, but that if people think their well or septic system was impacted by the floodwaters to get the well tested, even if they are unsure.

“I think if the homeowner suspects that their well could have been impacted or damaged by the flooding they should definitely get it tested,” said Arndt. “If you think your well head was damaged we recommend working with a private contractor.”

The tests are being handled at the Boulder County Public Health Lab.

Some Symptoms of Well Water Contamination Diarrhea Nausea Vomiting Abdominal Pain

“We have staffed the lab with additional folks to really meet the demand of what we’re seeing, it has slowed down our turnaround time a little bit … to 3 to 4 days rather than our usual 24 hours,” Arndt said.

Contaminated water can be drunk, but only after it has been boiled.

“If you boil the water for three minutes then cool it before consumption, then it’s safe to drink,” Arndt said. “For dishwashing, don’t use contaminated water, or bathing. We really are recommending that you use boiled water or bottled water for those household uses.”

Arndt says that as more people return to their homes contaminated well water could continue to be an issue.

“We have received hundreds of samples we only have results on 127 of them so far and if you suspect ongoing contamination then we really recommend working with a licensed contractor because the ground water levels are so variable it’s hard to tell when this will stop being an issue.”

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