Southwest District Health and the Department of Environmental Quality have completed their review of potential sources of wastewater contamination in nine private wells south of Nampa, determining that the contamination most likely came from septic systems in the area, the health district announced Tuesday.
"Fortunately, there have been no illnesses reported in connection with this finding," the district reported in a news release. Not all wells tested in the area last summer showed the presence of E. coli, but evidence indicates wastewater is starting to affect all wells in the area, according to the release.
The wells are in an area east of South Powerline and north of Locust Street, a health district spokeswoman said.
This situation was first identified last summer, the health district reports. All residents living within 1,000 feet of a contaminated well were notified of the potential health risks.
The health district is forming a work group to provide technical assistance to the residents and property owners, according to the news release. Technical assistance will include both short- and long-term treatment options. The group is expected to identify long-term ways to prevent further contamination of the area's well water by early fall.
"We strongly recommend for all well owners in the area to continue to test their well water regularly for E. coli and coliform bacteria,” said Brian Crawford, division director of Environmental Health for SWDH. “Even though E. coli is not currently present, it could appear in the future.”
The presence of E. coli bacteria in the wells is the primary health concern, with the potential of dangerous parasites, bacteria, and viruses associated with its presence, the district reports. E. coli bacteria are a commonly found in the intestines and feces of animals and humans, and the precense of feces in drinking water can be harmful to both humans and animals.
If testing reveals E. coli in the water, health officials recommend boiling the water before ingesting it. Bathing in the water is safe, but bottled or treated water should be used when brushing teeth. Installing an ultraviolet filtration treatment system is a viable option, the health district reports.