MADISON -- Heavy rains in many Wisconsin counties last week have affected private property owners and state properties as well.The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is offering the guidance below as many property owners will begin assessing damage, checking wells and septic systems and removing storm related debris. In particular, heavy rains can create conditions that affect private wells and drinking water.
- People and pets are advised to limit contact and avoid swimming or wading in flood waters and runoff, which may contain bacteria and other contaminants.
- Floodwaters and runoff may affect private wells. Well owners who observe flooding or changes in their water should assume their wells are contaminated and should stop drinking the water. Homeowners are encouraged to make sure their wells are properly disinfected, then sample the well after pumping and disinfection to assure the water is safe.
- Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination.
- Even without obvious signs of flooding, a well can become contaminated. More recommendations for private well owners whose wells have been inundated are available on the DNR website.
- More information on bacteriological contamination of drinking water wells, along with lists of licensed well drillers, pump installer and labs certified to analyze water samples are available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for the keyword "wells."
- DNR has compiled information on how to dispose of specific materials and items. Visit Cleaning up storm debris for more information. You can also contact local authorities to find out if there are special arrangements or resources for cleaning up and disposing of storm and flood debris.
- Septic systems are regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. Look for more information at DSPS.wi.gov, search "private onsite wastewater treatment systems program."
Visiting state parks and properties
- Merrick State Park remains open to welcome visitors but the South and Island campgrounds are closed due to flooding. The campgrounds will reopen once the river recedes and the campgrounds dry out.
- The Red Cedar Trail will be closed until further notice due to flooding and bridge work near mile 13 at Dunnville Wildlife Area. The detour around the bridge work is impassable due to flooding.
- A section of the Chippewa River State Trail is flooded between mile 5 and 6 near Jopke Road south of Eau Claire. Visitors can use the Highway 85 rest area or Caryville rest area to access the trail to the south. The trail section will open again when the water levels recede. A trail intersection at 770th Street east of Meridean is also flooded and impassible.
- All ATV trails in the Black River State Forest are closed: A heavy storm on May 17 has resulted in flooded ATV trails resulting in a closure of the entire system.
- Current condition updates can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Current Conditions."