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Missouri officials warn of bacteria in flood waters

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)
During flood season, waters may be contaminated with E. coli and other bacteria.

By Veronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – It's flood season again in Missouri, and Department of Natural Resources spokesman Judd Slivka says high water levels aren't the only thing we need to worry about. Those flood waters? They may be full of disease-causing bacteria.

The contamination builds up as water moves across the floodplain, picking up bird and animal feces, flushing stagnant ponds, and inundating trash dumps.

Flood waters can also overwhelm sewage systems, bypassing treatment plants and carrying raw sewage straight into rivers and streams.

Slivka says people who get their water from private wells need to be especially careful. "The best way to tell if your well is potentially contaminated is to be aware of what you're drinking," says Slivka. "Has the water changed in consistency, is it grittier than it was, does it taste different, is it a strange color, does it have a funky odor to it?"

If it does, Slivka says, stop drinking it and get your well tested for bacteria and other contaminants.


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