Report indicates water safe

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2003

If you were like many of our area residents, you received a public notice from the Water Works and Sewer Board of Greenville.

The notice alerted the public that coliform bacteria had been found in two water samples tested by the water department in August.

Water Superintendent Jerry McCullough said the notice was required by the state, but isn’t cause for alarm.

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&uot;There could have been several causes for the elevated presence of coliform bacteria in our water samples,&uot; McCullough said. &uot;First of all, coliform bacteria occurs naturally in the environment. It is found in all warm-blooded mammals. The presence of the bacteria in our samples could have been caused by a piece of trash falling from the shrubbery at one of the sample points, and wasn’t being caught when we tested the sample.&uot;

McCullough said his staff flushed the affected area, retested the water, and found no more bacteria in the water lines.

&uot;The procedure, whether we have one or more samples with coliform, is to flush the water lines in the affected areas, and then we retest that same site, as well as five house in either direction from that site,&uot; he said.

McCullough said the tests that are used are very sensitive, picking up any foreign substances in the water.

&uot;The coliform is just an indicator sample,&uot; he said. &uot;If the sample indicates that coliform is there, then the lab we use, Tuscaloosa Testing Laboratories, would determine what, if anything, caused the bacteria to show up. If anything abnormal is found, they notify me and the Alabama Dept. of Environmental Management (ADEM). ADEM would then tell me what to do if there were a possible incident.&uot;

The water superintendent said his department test twice a month, pulling 18 samples from the routes and a sample from each well.

&uot;We have approximately 60 scheduled test sites that we rotate between on different routes each month,&uot; McCullough said.

&uot;I don’t see anything in this latest sample that should cause concern with this incident,&uot; he said. &uot;I drink the water here every day. The last time we had a public notice for coliform was 20 years ago. We are allowed one sample per month to have the bacteria, according to state water safety guidelines. If we have more than one, we have to give public notice – not that there is a problem, but to let the public know there is a potential for a problem.&uot;