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In Seminole County, wells may be contaminated by Ian’s floods, officials say

If Hurricane Ian flooded your well or it is near floodwaters, it should be disinfected, Seminole officials said Monday.

While some floodwaters are receding along Lake Harney and immediately adjacent to the St. John’s River, wells may have been damaged by the rush of water and may be infected by bacteria, a Seminole County official said Monday.

If a well is flooded or near floodwaters, it should be disinfected, said Donna Walsh, the state health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.

“If your well has been affected by floodwaters, there may be disease-causing organisms in your water, making it unsafe to drink,” she said at the Rural Heritage Center in Geneva.

It’s unclear how many wells were impacted by the floods, which rose in parts of Geneva and downtown Sanford after the hurricane more than two weeks ago.

Walsh said that affected residents should bring well water to a rolling boil for one minute, and let it cool completely before drinking. They also could drink bottled water or add eight drops of unscented household bleach to a gallon of water, mix it and let it sit for 30 minutes. If it isn’t cloudy, it can be drunk.

Water is available at the Rural Heritage Center in Geneva, 101 E. Main St., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, said Andy Wontor, a county spokesperson.

Residents can learn more about disinfecting their well at or get it tested by a laboratory (certified laboratory list from Florida DEP).

At Lake Harney, floodwaters have surpassed 2008 levels and are expected to remain that way for about another week or two, said Alan Harris, the county’s emergency manager.

“The lake is continuing to go down. … Some homes that were flooded at the peak are starting to dry out, which is excellent for some of those individuals along Lake Harney,” he said.

In Sanford, flooding has reached historic levels set in 1953. The water is receding, however, Harris said.