Bacteria found in city water

Published 9:41 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A test of the Demopolis Water Works water supply revealed the presence of Coliform bacteria.

Three of 18 samples collected in August tested positive for the bacteria group, which includes E. coli.

The state standard for such a test is that no more than one sample can show the presence of the germ strain.

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“This is the first positive test in more than two years,” water works general manager Jerry Price said.

Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria may be present.

These types of bacteria are typically eradicated by the use of chemical additives such as chorine, rendering the water safe for consumption. However, testing practices make the water samples more susceptible to contamination once certain stabilizing chemicals are removed.

“When you send the water off for testing, you have to neutralize the chlorine,” Price said. “That makes your sample vulnerable.”

Price said, given the consistent passing marks the Demopolis water supply has received in the past, that he suspects the sample was tainted in transit from the source to the testing site.

“Water samples are highly sensitive,” he said. “You can breathe on it and cause a positive (test result.)”

Price added that water samples taken immediately before the state test and two tests since also did not test positive for the bacteria.

“No one has been sick and follow up tests have all came back negative, so we’re satisfied that we’ve done everything to ensure that our water was, and is, safe.”