Environmental Health Programs
Please call our office telephone number (262) 896-8300 or you may also e-mail your question. You will be directed to the person most familiar with the topic or program.
SPECIAL NOTICE....Please see the press release below from the WIsconsin DNR Private Water Section regarding current rainfall and flooding concerns.
Recent heavy rainfall, mixed with warming temperatures, snow melt and lingering frozen ground can create conditions that may affect private wells and drinking water across central and southern Wisconsin.
"Our recent rain, mixed precipitation and local flooding throughout the state is a reminder that changing spring weather can lead to well contamination," said Liesa Lehmann, Department of Natural Resources Private Water Section chief. "At this time of year we encourage well owners to watch for signs of flooding and note any change in the color, smell or taste of their drinking water."
Lehmann said owners who see flood waters very near or over their wells should assume their drinking water may be contaminated and to take the following steps:
Flood waters and rain runoff may contain bacteria and other contaminants that can affect water supplies and cause illness. Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination.
"Disinfection and sampling is best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer" says Lehmann. Any water supply system that has been submerged by flood waters should be pumped out once the floodwater recedes, then thoroughly disinfected and tested to determine that the water is safe.
More information on bacterial contamination of drinking water wells, and for information regarding sampling of your water system contact the WAUKESHA COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH DIVISION at 262-896-8300.
For individuals who receive drinking water from a public water supply, these systems are designed and operated to keep out contaminants. If you have concerns about the safety of your community's drinking water, contact your public water supplier.
POWTS – What to do after a flood
Where can I find information on my septic system?
Please contact your county zoning/health department that oversees the regulation of POWTS for additional advice and assistance. For more information on onsite/decentralized wastewater systems, check out the DSPS website at WWW.DSPS.WI.GOV or email at DSPSSBPowtstech@wisconsin.gov
What do I do during the flood or saturated drain-field conditions?
Do not pump any tanks or pump chambers. At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution. Never open any manhole covers or other openings that are under flood water. Not only is this dangerous for your personal safety, flood water and associated debris like mud and silt will enter the system and possibly back up into your home. Under worst conditions, pumping it out could cause the tank to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes. The best solution is to plug all drains in the basement, turn off electricity to the system at the circuit box and drastically reduce water use in the house. Do not dig into the tank or drain-field area while the soil is still wet or flooded. Try to avoid any work on or around the disposal field with heavy machinery while the soil is still wet. These activities will ruin the soil conductivity.
What do I do with my septic system after the flood?
Once floodwaters have receded, there are several things homeowners should remember:
Remember: Whenever the water table is high or your sewage system is threatened by flooding there is a risk that sewage will back up into your home. The only way to prevent this backup is to relieve pressure on the system by using it less.