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Health eTips is produced by the staff of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. The department consists of three divisions - Environmental Health and Protection, Health Services and Humane Services - that provide a wide range of services focused on enhancing the well-being of this community.

If you have questions about the Department of Public Health or have suggestions on public health topics you'd like to see explored in this blog, please email us.

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May 17

Safe Water

Posted on May 17, 2018 at 1:12 PM by Doug Bolnick

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE - BUT IS IT SAFE FOR ME?


Water covers approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s surface and comprises about 70 percent of the human body, making it among the most important resources in the world. Water also plays a vital role in St. Charles County’s health, recreation, commerce and safety, as more than 40 percent of America’s water flows along our borders in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.hands being washed from an outdoor water pump

The average American uses about 50 gallons of water each day — the amount to fill an average sized bathtub — for hydration, cooking, cleaning and other needs. As 99 percent of the world’s water supply is undrinkable (for example, salt water in oceans and other waterways, or ice caps and glaciers), caring for the remaining one percent of potable water and preventing diseases or contaminants associated with water are vital.



Public Water

The United States boasts one of the world’s safest water supplies, having regulated water treatment for more than 100 years. In our community, St. Charles County Government does not provide public water services, but several municipalities and utility providers work diligently to provide homes and businesses with safe, purified water for drinking, sanitation and sewage.

Here are a few water service and sewer management providers assisting St. Charles County residents and businesses:

In the small number of instances where water pressure drops, a water line is damaged or contaminants enter the supply, these municipalities and providers will alert residents and the Division of Environmental Health and Protection will contact food providers and other regulated agencies as to the need for boil-water notifications. A rolling boil for at least THREE MINUTES will kill most organisms, and this treated water should be used for all drinking, cooking and bathing during the notification period. After the boil-water notice is lifted, all water lines and equipment with reservoirs should be flushed and cleaned to allow pure water back into the system.

Residents who have questions about water service, billing and operations should contact their provider. Restaurants, food providers, fitness centers and other St. Charles County-licensed facilities who may have questions about water service for their business may call their designated Environmental Public Health Specialist at 636-949-1800.
woman drinking water bottle

Private Water


Several homes and licensed facilities in St. Charles County are serviced by wells or other private water systems. These are sourced by ground water reservoirs, which collect water in pores and spaces between rock layers deep in the soil.

Those who own private wells are responsible for ensuring the safety of their water sources, but the Division of Environmental Health and Protection can help. Homeowners and facilities can collect samples of their water periodically, drop it off at the division offices and have it tested by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Public Health Laboratory.

If you have questions about the collection process, please call the Division of Environmental Health and Protection at (636) 949-1800. If you have questions related to submitted private water samples, please call (573) 751-3334.


Pollution Prevention

Rain, melting snow and other runoff can carry chemicals, dirt, waste and other pollutants from land into creeks, rivers and lakes. This stormwater runoff is considered to be the most common form of water pollution and can make waterways unsafe for drinking, recreation and fishing.

The Division of Environmental Health and Protection works with other regional, state and federal organizations to help keep our waterways clean. Here are a few things you can do at home to help this effort:
  • Prevent erosion and yard waste from entering waterways (sediment is the #1 pollutant of local waterways).
  • Landscape with native plants to minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Assist efforts to protect wetlands, which buffer against pollutants, protect areas against flooding and provide habitat for native plants and animals.
  • Properly dispose of chemicals and other hazardous materials, making certain they do not end up in drains, sewers and dump sites.


Water-Related Illnesses

These prevention efforts help protect communities from the pollutants, chemicals, unwanted minerals, parasites, bacteria, viruses and other contaminants that enter water systems and cause health or infrastructure problems. Although an extremely rare occurrence in the United States, contaminated water supplies cause significant issues, including gastrointestinal illnesses, developmental problems and death in extreme cases.

Here’s a list of common problems associated with water contaminants:Cartoon of a young man examining his drink cup


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DON'T PASS ON FOOD SAFETY DURING SUPER BOWL
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Tick-borne Diseases

The same 
tick-borne illnesses that affect humans can infect pets as well. Since dogs and cats spend time outdoors, opportunities for exposure to ticks is high. Animals’ thick fur can cause tiny ticks to be difficult to spot. If your pet displays changes in behavior or appetite, and exposure to ticks is a possibility, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Preventing bites is the most important step in preventing these illnesses:
  • Speak with your veterinarian about reliable tick-prevention products and about vaccinating your pet against diseases carried by insects. Make sure the product you purchase is appropriate for your pet. Many of these products can be harmful if used improperly.
  • Keep pets away from common tick habitat, including tall grass and wooded areas.
  • Vigilantly check for ticks whenever the animal returns from the outdoors. Common places to find ticks on pets include behind the ears, in armpits, between toes, under collars and on the belly.
  • If you discover a tick on your body or your pet, remove the tick (https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/dog-care/remove-dog-tick/) quickly and completely.

Tick-borne Diseases

The same tick-borne illnesses that affect humans can infect pets as well. Since dogs and cats spend time outdoors, opportunities for exposure to ticks is high. Animals’ thick fur can cause tiny ticks to be difficult to spot. If your pet displays changes in behavior or appetite, and exposure to ticks is a possibility, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Preventing bites is the most important step in preventing these illnesses:
  • Speak with your veterinarian about reliable tick-prevention products and about vaccinating your pet against diseases carried by insects. Make sure the product you purchase is appropriate for your pet. Many of these products can be harmful if used improperly.
  • Keep pets away from common tick habitat, including tall grass and wooded areas.
  • Vigilantly check for ticks whenever the animal returns from the outdoors. Common places to find ticks on pets include behind the ears, in armpits, between toes, under collars and on the belly.
  • If you discover a tick on your body or your pet, remove the tick (https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/dog-care/remove-dog-tick/) quickly and completely.