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Health Department advises residents to take precautions after flooding

WAUKEGAN – The Lake County Health Department is urging residents to take precautions to minimize health hazards during and after floods.

Residents are advised to avoid contact with floodwater, which can contain harmful bacteria and other contaminants, and to avoid drinking or washing with water from private wells that have been flooded. Use bottled or disinfected water for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, washing hands and bathing until you know your water is safe.

“During a flood, a particular concern is septic systems becoming submerged and potentially releasing sewage into floodwater, which can then reach private wells,” said Larry Mackey, director of environmental health at the Health Department. “We are offering free water testing for wells directly impacted by recent floods to assure residents that their water is safe to consume.”

Once floodwaters have receded, free well water testing is available for residents of the following areas in the Antioch Township and Fox Lake area: Stanton Point Road; Knollwood Park subdivision; Meyers Bayview Terrace and Eagle Point Road (east side of Pistakee Lake); Fox River Springs subdivision (Route 173 and North Converse Road along the Fox River); Channel Lake Shores subdivision (north side of Channel Lake); and ChannOaks subdivision (southeast shore of Channel Lake and Route 173).

If you live outside these areas and know your well was submerged in floodwater, you are also eligible for a free test.

Residents with impacted wells can pick up a sterile bottle and lab form at the Lake County Central Permit Facility (500 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville), Antioch Township Office (1625 Deep Lake Road, Lake Villa), Antioch Assessors Office (1490 Main St., Antioch), and Village of Fox Lake Office (66 Thillen Drive, Fox Lake).  

During heavy rains and floods, the ground is often saturated, preventing proper operation of septic systems. Signs that a septic system is not working properly include sinks and toilets draining slowly, floor drains overflowing, and sewage becoming visible outside the home.

If you use a septic system at your home, take the following precautions during flood events:

• Avoid contact with septic system electrical devices until they are dry and clean.

• Reduce all nonessential water use (dishwashing, washing clothes, showering).

• Flush toilets as little as possible.

Consult with a licensed septic system professional before pumping out septic tanks, aerobic units, lift stations, or holding tanks during times of high water. Doing so may cause the tanks to float out of the ground.

After the floodwaters have receded, if you suspect your septic system has been damaged, get the system professionally inspected and serviced. A list of septic system professionals can be found at http://www.lakecountyil.gov/818/Onsite-Wastewater-Treatment-System

Do not hesitate to ask questions if you have any doubts about the safety of any food, water or conditions around your home. For assistance and information, call Environmental Health Services of the Lake County Health Department at 847-377-8020.

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