Is rain sending contaminants into your drinking water? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is rain sending contaminants into your drinking water?

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Trude Wright loves spending time at her summer camp in Milton with her grandchildren.

"The lake and the trees, the cedars and the Adirondacks across the lake," she said.

But something she can't enjoy right now is fresh drinking water from her spring.

"First time in 45 years we're not able to drink it," Wright said.

The spring she shares with neighbors has been contaminated with toxins, even after they treated it with bleach.

"The folks that maintain it cleaned the tanks, purged the lines. We did everything we're supposed to do according to the water authority and tested it again and it still came back funky," Wright said.

She and her neighbors think the near-constant rain this summer is to blame. They've sent samples to the Vermont Department of Health, which are consistently testing positive for both coliform and e.coli. That could make them sick.

"Usually gastrointestinal illness, things like stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting," said Sarah Vose, the toxicologist for the Vt. Department of Health.

Vose has seen an increase in concern in recent weeks.

"What we've seen is that small towns where there could be isolated flash flooding-- there are a lot of calls from the areas that may be flooded on that day," Vose said.

She says runoff into springs and standing water on top of well covers are just a few reasons many water supplies are unsafe to drink this summer.

"If there are any rivers or culverts that have changed patterns or come closer to a well, that could indicate some changes in the quality of the well water," Vose explained.

She says if you notice any sediment coming from your faucet or if the water has a funny smell don't drink it. Either boil it or switch to bottled water until you can get a test kit from the state.

"If their tests come back positive for coliform we do recommend they shock their well with chlorine and we have guidelines on our website on how to do that," Vose said.

She says usually one round of disinfection will do the trick, but Trude Wright is still waiting for the second dose of chlorine to work its way through.

"It's not really unexpected," Wright said. "Like you would think, 'How could this possibly have happened?' But it's a consequence."

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