Officials warning owners of flooded wells in Hernando, Pasco not to drink water

RIDGE MANOR, Fla. (WFLA) — There’s a real worry in Hernando and Pasco counties that the stuff being flushed down toilets is ending up in the flooded Withlacoochee River.

More than 4,000 people are within reach of the river’s water in those counties alone.

Hurricane Irma caused several rivers to flood, leaving the Withlacoochee as the last to begin receding.

The river crested Thursday and is expected to remain at major flood stage, breaching its banks, at least through Wednesday.

“Debris and human feces floating around in water are not a good thing,” said Lisa Kilgore, a resident of the Riverdale subdivision.

Hernando County officials continue to warn families to stay out of the water and to use waders and rubber boots if you absolutely have to go in.

Kilgore said homes in her area are underwater and that, “It’s devastation.”

She’s worried for the health of her family now that water has overtaken septic tanks and private wells nearby.

“We would definitely advise that if your well flooded, please don’t use water until you make sure that it’s not contaminated from the flood,” said Stefi Depovic, Environmental Manager of the Florida Health Department of Hernando County.

County officials will test well water for free to check for bacteria contamination.

Officials are urging people using private wells in or around flooded areas to boil water or use bottle water.

Wells that are more than 10-years-old or less than 50 feet deep are likely to be contaminated, even if there is no apparent damage, officials say. Floods may cause some wells to collapse.

Hernando County has a number of resources online ranging from how to seek help from FEMA, tips on disinfecting wells and maintaining septic tanks during floods.

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