May 5, 2017
OSWEGO COUNTY - Oswego County is included in a state of emergency that was issued by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this week due to flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
The Oswego County Health Department cautions people to be aware of the location of their private wells or septic systems in proximity to these floodwaters.
"Floodwater can affect more than just the home," said Oswego County Principal Public Health Sanitarian Natalie Roy. "Private well water may be contaminated with waterborne bacteria that can cause serious illness in people and animals. Septic tanks and plumbing can also start to function poorly, becoming sluggish."
Many people have concerns about their water and septic systems during flooding.Roy suggests, "After flooding, people should avoid using water from private wells for drinking or cooking until it is determined to be safe for consumption. After an initial assessment and any needed repairs, the well should be flushed and disinfected. A sample water test will show if it is safe."
Those with slow-working plumbing and septic systems in flood conditions should conserve water as much as possible. Using less water reduces the amount of sewage that the septic tank has to process. People can save water by not using toilets and washing machines.
Another suggestion is wait until floodwaters have receded before having the septic tank pumped or making repairs. Roy said, "A high level of groundwater might crush a septic tank that has been pumped dry. Often, systems are completely functional once water levels go back down, so people should wait to make repairs until the ground has dried out."
Some repairs may also require approval from the health department.
Flood recovery information about clean-up and home repairs is posted on http://www.oswegocounty.com/.
For more information about safe water and septic system issues, call the Oswego County Health Department's Environmental Division weekdays at 315-349-3557.
Those affected by the high water levels of Lake Ontario can call the New York State flood assistance hotline at 1-866-244-3839 for the latest flooding forecast, help with flood mitigation measures such as sandbags, and for technical assistance regarding on-site repairs to their property.
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