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JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JULY 26, 2022 – The still backwaters in areas affected by flooding may seem like an enticing place to cool off with some swimming or wading, but the Missouri Department of Natural Resources warns that such sites could be contaminated and are not safe for recreation.

Once water escapes from its river’s banks, it has ample opportunity to pick up wastewater, chemicals, petroleum products and other hazardous materials.

In addition to the water being released from reservoirs upstream on the Missouri River, localized rainfall can also stretch sanitary sewer collection systems to capacity and untreated wastewater may overflow into floodwaters. It is important to avoid contact with floodwater due to potential contamination with raw sewage and other hazardous substances, and chemicals the water may have assimilated. Avoid swimming and boating in floodwaters and do not allow children or pets to wade or play in floodwaters.

Similarly, flooding can disrupt normal operations of wastewater treatment and drinking water treatment and supply systems. It is important to follow boil water advisories when issued by your drinking water system or the department. 

It is important to stay hydrated while working on flood relief efforts, but avoid drinking or eating while in direct contact with floodwater. Routine and frequent hand washing with a disinfecting soap will reduce exposure to contaminants in floodwater. Anyone with open wounds that comes into contact with flood water should seek immediate consultation to prevent possible illness.

To report spills or releases that may affect public health or the environment, contact the department’s 24-hour spill line at 573-634-2436. For more information, visit

For health-related information, visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ website at:

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