SHOSHONE, Idaho (KLIX) – No city water systems in Gooding and Lincoln counties have been affected by contamination, according to information from the counties – but residents are still being asked to test well water before using.

South Central Public Health District, along with Gooding and Lincoln counties, remind residents in both counties that potential problems still exist with well water.

The potentially affected areas include,

Lincoln County: 320 North to 750 North and west of Highway 75 to the Lincoln/Gooding county line.

Gooding County:  2400 East to 2200 East on 1300 South, then north three miles east to county line road.

“Do not do not use well water for drinking, bathing, or food processing until you have had your well water tested and it comes back negative for Coliform and E.coli,” SCPHD said in a news release.

You can receive water testing information at the sheriff’s offices in either county and at the Lincoln County Community Center.

Identified area shower facilities are available at the Gooding County Annex, 145 7th Ave. East in Gooding. If you need to use the showers, call Missy Shurtz at 208-731-9682.

For those in Lincoln County’s identified area, residents can pick up drinking water and use the shower facilities at the Lincoln County Community Center by contacting Payson Reese at 208-410-1738.

The additional information below, prepared by SCPHD, may answer some of your questions:

Map courtesy of Gooding and Lincoln counties and South Central Public Health District

Is my water safe drink or use?
1. If the well water looks smells or tastes different from normal, it should not be used for anything other than flushing toilets until the water returns to a normal look and smell, the well has been disinfected, and a laboratory test shows the water clear of bacteria.
a. If the sample is clear of coliform bacteria but still has an abnormal look, smell or taste, we recommend that you contact a private water quality specialist for advice (well driller, Culigan, Kinetico, etc.)


2. If the well water has not had any change to look, taste or smell, but you are concerned; you may test the water for coliform bacteria. Whether or not you use it while you are waiting for the results is up to you.


a. If the test results are negative, then you can use the water as normal, but we recommend that you be on the lookout for any changes in water quality.


b. If the test results are positive, we advise that you not consume the water until you get a test that is absent for coliform bacteria. You can use the water for other uses. You can contact SCPHD or a private water quality specialist for advice (well driller, Culigan, Kinetico, etc.) for suggestions.

What do I do if my test results are positive for total coliform?
Total coliform is a name for a general group of bacteria. Some of the members of this group, like E. coli, can make people sick. Most members of the coliform group cannot, but they are easy and inexpensive to test for. If you have total coliform only, it means that there might be a problem. If the water is still clear and normal, we recommend that they disinfect (bleach) the well per the instructions on our website. That may clear up the problem.

What do I do if my test results are positive for E.coli?
You should not use the water for drinking, brushing teeth, etc. If the water is clear and normal, then boiling for a minute will make the water safe for any use, as long as no other contaminants, such as nitrates, are present. Test strips will be available at the Gooding and Lincoln county courthouse. Please call ahead to ensure they have not run out.

If the nitrate levels are normal and the water is still clear and normal, we recommend that they disinfect (bleach) the well per the instructions on our website. (phd5.idaho.gov/flooding)

Will boiling my water make it safe for my family to drink?
If your water still looks, smells and tastes normal, and doesn’t have high nitrates or other chemicals of concern, then yes, boiling the water for 1 minute will make it safe to drink. If your water has high levels of nitrates or other contaminates, boiling will just concentrate them. If the water looks, smells, or tastes different than it normally does, boiling the water will not help.

Can I bathe or shower if my water is clear?
Yes. Just avoid drinking any of the water.

If my well tested positive when should I retest my water?
If the well water looks smells or tastes different from normal, it should not be used for anything other than flushing toilets until returns to a normal look and smell, the well has been disinfected, and a laboratory test shows the water clear of bacteria.

If the look, smell and taste have not changed, then the well disinfection procedure should be followed.

How long will I need to test my water?
We do not know at this time how long it will take for any particular well to recover. It will depend upon the weather, how the particular well was constructed, how it has been maintained, and where it is.