DHEC finds E. coli in some private well water samples - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

DHEC finds E. coli in some private well water samples

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Even though the flooding may be over, people haven't escaped the water problems when it comes to their wells.

"That's really been the only major thing preventing us from being in the home," said Rick Cannon, who lives in Georgetown County along the Black River. Cannon said the water coming out of his tap was discolored and smelly during the flooding.

Cannon plans to make use of DHEC's private well water testing for people who experienced flooding.

DHEC has given out nearly 3,900 test kits and tested 1,249 samples as of October 26. 

DHEC tests the water samples for total coliform, which is an indicator bacteria. 

Thirty six percent of the samples have turned up positive for total coliform, which DHEC said is common in the environment and not usually harmful. 

Total coliform indicates the possibility of other bacteria, so DHEC will then test for E. Coli because that can cause illness.

Eight percent of the samples have tested positive for E. Coli, according to DHEC. Samples continue to be analyzed daily.

The depth of the well doesn't make a difference in the likelihood that it becomes contaminated, DHEC said. Water only has to be able to get into the surface of the well.

"When that water gets over the casing, it's going to drink it," said Shane Cribbs, owner of Cribbs Well Company. "It just depends how long it was over the top of that casing and how much water actually was allowed around that seal." 

Cribbs had six calls in one day for wells near the Black River last week.

"I've never had to do any chlorination down here like this," he said. I've had to do it along the Big Pee Dee before, but never nothing like this."

Cribbs puts disinfectant into wells and then pumps that disinfect through the system for the following 24 hours.

He recommends people don't use the water for anything besides toilet flushing until it gets tested.

Samples can be taken to DHEC seven to ten days after the well has been disinfected. If the test is positive, the disinfection and sampling process will need to be repeated.

DHEC generally gets results for samples within 24 hours.

Sample bottles are available at any DHEC health or environmental location Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Samples can be returned Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The following DHEC locations are open for pick ups and drop offs from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through November 1: Myrtle Beach, Florence, Aiken, Charleston, Greenwood, Orangeburg, Sumter.

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