Jun 24, 2021

Drinking Water Warning Issued in Genesee, Idaho

Well 5 has exhausted its supply of water and to maintain water to residents the city has turned well 3 back on.


The city of Genesee, Idaho, issued a drinking water warning June 21, 2021 for infants younger than 6 months old after the city was forced to switch to a well that historically has high nitrate levels.

According to the city, well 5 has exhausted its supply of water and to maintain water to residents the city has turned well 3 back on. Well 3 has nitrate levels that exceed the EPA limit. 

Well 5 was the lone active well that supplied drinking water to residents and so the city, under the authority of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, activated Well 3, which has been out of service since 2020 because of fluctuating nitrate levels in the water, reported Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

According to Dustin Brinkly, Genesee maintenance supervisor, a June 3 water sample from Well 3 measured 9.97 mg/L. Results from a June 21 sample are still pending. The water level in the aquifer dropped to a level where Brinkly had to shut the Well 5 pump off to protect the pump.

The news release said not to give tap water to infants younger than the age of 6 months and the city is encouraging water conservation by asking residents to limit outside watering as much as possible.

According to the city, nitrate in drinking water can come from natural, industrial, or agricultural sources. The levels of nitrate in drinking water can also vary throughout the year.

The goal is for the pump to be on for no more than 18 hours per day and Brinkly added that well hours have averaged around 15 hours a day, reported Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Due to residents conserving water, the well hours have dipped to 12 or 13 hours at times, said Mayor Tim Sperber.

“I’m really proud of the effort the community has made and just their response to what we’re doing,” said Sperber, reported Moscow-Pullman Daily News. “They really responded well and my guess is that they’ll respond well again.”

According to Brinkly, how long the city will operate on Well 3 instead of Well 5 is unclear.

Infants younger than 6 months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the maximum contaminant level could become seriously ill, and if untreated, may die. The water should not be boiled, as this can make the nitrates more concentrated.

A new well is being drilled to resolve the city’s water issues, according to Brinkly, which is expected to be on line in November if water is discovered at the well site, reported Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

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