March 22, 2019

Floodwaters could threaten quality of private water supplies

Lisa Cox
Chief, Office of Public Information
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Worsening flood conditions could pose threats to the quality of private water supplies for northern Missourians. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) advises those with flooded private water wells or any wells suspected of being impacted by the recent and ongoing flooding to be tested for safety by the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory (MSPHL).

Yesterday, Governor Mike Parson declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to the flooding. The MSPHL is waiving the fee for private drinking water testing statewide during the declared state of emergency.

Statewide, property owners may submit samples from private wells for bacterial testing. Samples must be submitted in collection kits provided by the MSPHL. To receive an MSPHL-issued test request form, water sample collection kit and sample collection instructions, contact your local public health agency or the MSPHL, 101 N. Chestnut in Jefferson City, at 573-751-4830.

Floodwaters also pose additional health risks:

  • Floodwater can contain raw sewage and pose other risks, including infectious diseases, hazardous chemical exposure, and debris that can cause injuries.
  • Direct contact with floodwater can cause skin rashes, an infection of cuts or wounds or stomach illnesses including vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Downed or broken power lines in floodwater pose an electrocution hazard.
  • Sharp objects and debris, such as glass or metal objects, may be lurking in floodwater.
  • Animals, insects, snakes and other reptiles that have been displaced due to flooding may be submerged or hiding in debris in or near floodwaters.

Clothing exposed to floodwater should be removed as soon as possible. Exposed hands, feet and any other skin should be washed with clean soap and water.

After working in or near floodwaters, monitor any cuts, scrapes or wounds for redness, swelling or drainage. Seek prompt medical attention if any of these symptoms develop.

Anyone involved with flood cleanup should have had a booster dose of tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine within the past 10 years. Contact your local health department or your primary care physician if you need a Td vaccine.

Actions to protect your family's important documents from flooding include gathering and storing copies of irreplaceable documents (such as birth certificates, passports, etc.) in a safe dry place, and keep originals in a safe deposit box. Plan and practice a flood evacuation route, and identify an out of region contact to be your family contact. This individual is who everyone should check in with upon reaching safety.

Other flooding preparation steps include building an emergency supply kit. Gather food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines and a battery-operated radio to be ready to go when you are.

When floodwater comes, remember that driving in moving or standing water, wading in floodwaters or exposure while recovering from a flood can pose health risks. Do not allow children to play in or near floodwater, as banks can suddenly give way throwing a person into the moving water.

More information regarding flood safety and recovery

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.