Western UP Health Department

Leading The Community Toward Better Health

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April 13, 2023 – Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon Counties, MI – The Western U P Health Department (WUPHD) encourages all district residents to avoid contact with any floodwaters. Floodwaters may contain sewage or other contaminants that may be harmful to public health.

“Warm weather and fast snow melt have resulted in municipal combined sewer systems discharging to surface water in many of our communities,” said Kate Beer, Health Officer at WUPHD. “Where floodwater contains sewage, the potential for infectious disease is of concern.”

Combined sewer systems are common across the area and are designed to collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial waste water in the same network of pipes. Heavy rainfall and a fast spring snowmelt frequently result in an overflow to the surface.

WUPHD is advising the public to avoid all contact with floodwater and surface water during the spring snowmelt period. Children should be discouraged from playing in floodwater. Always wash hands with soap and water after contact with floodwater or after cleanup of flood effected material.

The WUPHD urges all homeowners with flooded basements to use caution during clean up. Use rubber gloves and boots. Throw out food that may have been in contact with floodwater.

Homeowners that live on a property that has a well should inspect the well for evidence of having been under floodwater. If it has been under floodwater, it should be tested for contamination or disinfected before use. Testing and disinfection instructions are available on the health department website at www.wupdhd.org/water-supply-program/.

If you have questions or concerns, contact the WUPHD at (906) 482-7382 or visit our website at www.wuphd.org.