Missouri offering free test kits to residents concerned with private water sources

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — People continue to question the safety of drinking water after all the flooding. Now the state of Missouri is offering free lab testing for some people worried about their water.

Looking at the raging floods in Nebraska, Dena Ramirez knew Missouri would get hit too.

“Gosh that’s kind of a scary thought. You don’t know what’s in the water up there, what’s coming down here,” Ramirez said.

But she never expected it would affect the water coming into her Kansas City home.

“We ran a bath for one of my kids and it turned out kind of yellowish and I thought maybe it was because my kid was so dirty! But took him out of the tub and it was super yellow and kind of had a little bit of a smell to it,” Ramirez said.

Her family’s been sticking to bottled water ever since.

KC Water has been modifying its treatment process to adapt to flood conditions on the Missouri River. It continues to test the supply and says it’s improving and remains safe.

But many who live in flood prone areas, rely on their own private wells or cisterns.

“Just a huge variety of chemicals can end up in flood water but also sewage and  not just human waste, but animal waste,” Dan Luebbert said, deputy director of the Platte County Health Department.

The state of Missouri is now offering those with private water sources free test kits, which can be obtained through your local public health department.

Luebbert said anyone with a well should also take some important steps before sending in a sample.

“With flooding, there’s a lot of silt left when the water recedes and silt can end up in wells and cisterns so it’s very important to get the silt out then clean and disinfect the water before drinking it and to test it,” Luebbert said.

The state lab will check for specific bacteria. But health experts said it’s also wise to do a second test for nitrates, which can be a good indicator of water pollution.

When you get the test kit, there are instructions for how to collect your water sample.  You can mail it into the state lab or if you live in Platte County, you can drop it off at the health department office in Parkville during business hours Monday through Friday, where a courier will pick it up and deliver to Jefferson City.  Results usually come back within a week.

Here are some additional resources on cleaning and disinfecting private water sources:

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