Health Department wraps up free well testing for flood victims

Western Upper Peninsula Health Department

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HANCOCK – The Western U.P. Health Department is ending a short-term campaign to assure that Houghton County homeowners with private wells have safe drinking water. Homeowners with wells affected by the June 17 floods were offered free well testing kits over the past three weeks. The health department distributed 384 kits to Houghton County residents.

As of July 5, results had been received from 209 well tests and 30 percent of those wells were determined to be contaminated with Coliform or E.coli bacteria, which can be harmful to human health. Based on the number of well testing kits distributed versus the number of homes that reported damage, the health department is confident that all homeowners impacted have participated in the free well testing opportunity. The remaining 175 people who picked up testing kits but did not yet sample can still use the free test.

“The health department was pleased that so many people took advantage of the free testing,” said WUPHD Environmental Health Division Director Tanya Rule. “Drinking, cooking, brushing teeth or even showering with contaminated water can lead to illness.”

Rule said free bottled water for homeowners with contaminated wells is available at the health department office in Hancock. The health department web site has instructions for treating affected wells. The well should be disinfected with chlorine according to the instructions, then the water should be tested again to make sure it is safe for drinking. Residents that had a positive bacteria test can get a second free testing kit following well chlorination.

Although the free well testing kit distribution period has ended, well testing kits are always available at health department offices in Hancock, L’Anse, Ontonagon and Bessemer. Bacteria testing can be done for $17. For more information, contact the health department at (906) 482-7382, or visit the web site at

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