Sep 21, 2007

North Dakota City Finds E Coli in Water Supply

Water quality employees in Devil’s Lake, N.D. found two different kinds of bacteria in the city’s water supply: Total Coliform bacteria and E. Coli bacteria.

The bacteria was discovered during routine testing, and then again in follow-up testing. The city issued an alert in response, asking residents to take special precautions before drinking the city’s water.

Joel Myhro, head of the city’s water department, told Devil’s Lake Journal that he doesn’t want residents to be alarm, but he wants to make sure they are safe.

Devil’s lake maintains 24 sites that are routinely tested for water quality. Each month eight sites are tested, and it was during this routine process that the contamination was discovered. More testing is scheduled to be done and the community will be notified as soon as the water is deemed safe again.

These bacteria can make a person sick, and are especially harmful for those with weakened immune systems, such as young children or the elderly.

Residents are instructed to boil all water before drinking, making ice cubes, washing dishes, brushing teeth, preparing or washing food. Residents should only purchase bottled water that was packaged outside of the city.

Myhro told Devil’s Lake Journal that the contamination may have happened due to a water break, the disinfectant is low or from improper bacteria sample testing.

The city of Devils Lake plans to flush all water lines extensively and use more disinfectant. This might lead to a noticeable smell of chlorine and some discoloration of the water in the system while this work is being done.