Floodwaters recede in Pasco County

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Pasco County floodwaters are finally starting to recede, but thousands of residents aren’t in the clear just yet. The murky, brown water that filled streets, yards and put nearly 3,000 homes on evacuation notice may be doing unseen damage.

On Monday, emergency crews brought 660 cases of bottled water to families who didn’t heed mandatory evacuation orders in seven different neighborhoods. Officials want to make sure those trapped by floodwaters have plenty of clean drinking water.

Wells may still seem to work as they should. However, the water they’re pumping out could be contaminated.

“Septics’ lids are popped up. Septic water is bubbling up from the septic systems and actually leaching into the ground. You’re getting all the septic, bacteria water floating down the river and through the roads and neighbors’ yards,” said Pasco Fire and Rescue Captain Thomas Carpinone. “It’s dangerous.”

Many of the properties in these neighborhoods use both well water and septic systems and when flooding occurs, those wells can become contaminated.

Emergency officials say several people became sick just last summer after bacterial water seeped into private well systems during heavy flooding.

Emergency officials say they’ll continue to pass out bottled water as neighbors begin to return home. Pasco County will test to make sure public well water is safe, but they’re urging neighbors with private wells to get theirs tested too.

Officials are worried people may not recognize danger in their drinking water if their well system appears to be functioning like normal.

“That’s what they think and then sometimes they learn the hard way, which is the worst way,” said Carpinone.

The county is not currently under a boil water advisory, but officials say if your water is supplied by a well and you experienced flooding, it’s a good idea to boil your water, use bottled water and make sure to have your well water tested.