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Province to Cover Full Cost of Well-water Testing for Flood-affected Areas

Media Bulletin – Manitoba
April 21, 2011

Everyone Using Private Water Supplies Affected by Flooding Advised to Boil Water Now, Test After Flooding Subsides

Manitoba Water Stewardship and Manitoba Health are advising everyone who uses private water supplies including wells, cisterns or unfiltered surface-water sources affected by flooding to boil their water before consumption or use a safe alternative such as bottled water. The chief provincial public health officer issued this boil water advisory on April 8.If it is suspected that a private drinking water source has been affected by flooding, the water should be boiled for at least one minute or an alternative source of water such as bottled water should be used for consumption. This includes water for preparing food, beverages, baby formula or ice, and brushing teeth. Water can continue to be used for laundry, washing dishes or bathing. Care should be taken to avoid children getting water in their mouths while bathing. Infants and toddlers should be sponge bathed.

Once the flood waters recede, everyone with a private water supply that has been affected by flooding should get a bacteria test done before resuming usual water consumption.

Indicators well water may be affected by flooding include:

• a change in the taste, odour or appearance of the well water;
• laboratory tests showing bacteria in the well water or other wells nearby; or
• water lying around the well head or collecting in the well pit or around other wells nearby.
The risk of contamination is higher for:

• shallow wells or wells built in sand or gravel;
• wells located in pits or depressions where water can pool;
• wells with rusted, cracked or unsealed casings that do not extend at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) above ground;
• wells near septic tanks or fields, barns, feed lots or other sources of contamination; and
• wells near unsealed abandoned wells, sink holes or quarries.

The province normally subsidizes bacteria testing for private well owners but the well owner’s share is being waived for the 2011 flood season and the province is paying the full cost for bacteria testing. Private well-water testing will be fully subsidized until June 30. During this period, well-water samples should be marked 2011 Flood and sent to:

• ALS Canada: Unit 12-1329 Niakwa Rd., Winnipeg, MB R2J 3T4, Phone: 204-255-9720 or 1-800-607-7555 (toll-free).
• Maxxam Analytics: Unit D, 675 Berry St., Winnipeg, MB R3H 1A7, Phone: 204-772-7276 or 1-800-665-8566 (toll-free).

Instructions, sample bottles and submission forms are available from either laboratory or from local Manitoba Water Stewardship or Manitoba Conservation offices. Follow all instructions carefully when collecting and shipping a water sample. For information on sample collection, shipping or test results, contact the laboratory.

Other inquiries should be directed as follows:

• for general inquiries about the bacteria subsidy program for private well owners, call 204‑945‑5776;
• for information on treating well water, call 204-945-8913;
• for information on repairing or shock chlorinating wells, call 204-945-3737; and
• for health effects relating to well water, call Health Links at 204-788-8200 in Winnipeg or at 1‑888‑315-9257 (toll-free).

A Flooding and Well Water Safety fact sheet and other flood-related information is available at www.gov.mb.ca/flooding/factsheets.html

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