Rising Great Lakes

Posted on April 30, 2019 by

Last week, the Director of Emergency Services for Niagra County, New York reported that Lake Ontario rose 5 inches in just 10 days. This kind of water level rise gives cause for concern to lakeside property owners who were just awarded damage control funds from 2017 flood events last year. Daniela Klicper, Coastal Stewardship Coordinator for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, says that water levels for all the Great Lakes are likely to stay above average this season, bringing concern for erosion and flood events to floodplains across the region. The major flooding of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers last month destroyed major parts of the rural midwest.  

Record snowfall this winter means record snowmelt, bringing attention to a lack of climate resiliency across the region. Flooding isn’t just detrimental to property however, it also affects water quality as well. Flood events can bring e. Coli from sewage systems and manure-treated fields, pesticides, and other contamination from the land to groundwater sources.

1.1 million private wells could be contaminated in the U.S. midwest from flood events in late March of this year. 300 counties experienced flooding affecting wells in 10 states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan. The National Ground Water Association says that almost 300,000 private wells in Wisconsin are vulnerable to contamination from the flooding. Because private wells are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency it is up to the homeowners to make sure their water is safe to drink. If you own a private well and have seen flooding in or around your well site, it’s best to assume the water is contaminated. Contaminated wells should be pumped, sanitized, and tested before resuming use for drinking water.

Missouri is the only state currently offering free well testing in flooded areas. Missouri property owners seeking free testing must obtain collection kits from the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory and submit samples using those kits.


© 2021 Freshwater Future. All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.