E. coli found in Fillmore County wells - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

E. coli found in Fillmore County wells

FILLMORE COUNTY, MN (KTTC-TV) -- Although the flood waters have receded in many areas, a danger still lurks hundreds of feet below the surface.

Health officials say thousands of people in Fillmore county may be putting themselves at risk if they don't get their water systems tested.

"What's going on down there isn't exactly what's going on on the surface," says Ross Kiehne, one of only 40 people in Fillmore County to get their private well tested.

Kiehne says, "Once you get the tests back and it says it's OK, you feel a lot better about drinking it."

According to health officials, 4,000 private wells in Fillmore County are potentially contaminated from the recent flooding.

Fillmore County Public Health Educator Brenda Pohlman says, "Just because it looks clean, smells clean, just because it doesn't have any brown chunks in it, doesn't mean it might not be contaminated, and that's the hardest thing for people to understand."

Of the private well samples tested so far, Pohlman says three have tested positive for E. coli bacteria and around 15 have shown unsafe nitrate levels.

FEMA and American Red Cross flood assessments don't cover private wells and septic systems, State Senator Sharon Ropes is trying to find away the state can help.

"This may be an area where family's are falling through the cracks. That's my job to go back to the capitol to see if we can help these folks out," says Ropes.

People like Carolyn Evers, who's 70-year-old well collapsed last week.

She says drilling a new well, is well, expensive.

Evers says, "26,000 dollars, the price of a new car, a nice new car."

You might not see it, but the dangers of bacteria are still there, and 3/4 of the population of Fillmore County are still at risk.

Pohlman says, "So, the best thing for people to do is bring a sample in here and get it tested."

Anyone can get a free nitrate test at Fillmore County Public Health.

Bacteria tests are also free for people with wells that were within 50 feet of a flooded area.

If your well was not within 50 feet, tests are available at the Fillmore County zoning office.

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