Pursuant to the requirements of the Minnesota Department of Health, we were advised today to issue the following notice:
E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Human pathogens in these wastes can causes short-term effects such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) representative wanted us to emphasize the fact that the E. coli test result was present at only one of the City’s eleven sample sites. We believe this is an isolated situation attributable to that location and not representative of the city’s water supply. The MDH took follow-up tests on Friday afternoon and the results obtained on Saturday indicated no presence of E. coli at that same location. However, total coliform was present at the site in question and one additional site in the City’s system. The combination of those results triggered the need for this notice.
Based on that information, staff started chlorination of the system Saturday afternoon as a precautionary measure. The MDH also advised us on Saturday that we not issue any public notice pending further review of this matter. That review occurred on this afternoon (Monday, 9/10).
MDH conducted follow-up testing today. We anticipate the results of those tests to be available by late Tuesday afternoon. Those results will dictate any other additional steps we need to take. In the meantime, it is important to note that this notice does not require you to boil your water!
As you know, we had issued a notice back on August 23rd. Our steps at that time indicated that problem was resolved when all citywide tests subsequently passed. The City believes recent construction activity is the continuing source of this problem and we are taking additional steps aimed at totally resolving that issue. We are also working with the site of the failed sample to resolve their internal plumbing issues.
We also want to restate the following information from our previous notice:
Citing the MDH, total coliform bacteria is common in the environment (usually found in soil) and is generally not harmful. The source of total coliform is most likely from contamination from the environment, introduced during construction or while repairs to plumbing or a water main were underway (See MDH Consumer Notice for additional information).
As users of the City’s water system, what should you do? According to MDH’s Consumer Notice, you may drink the water. However, if you have specific health concerns, you may want to consider an alternate source of water for consumption such as bottled water or boiling of water for one minute.
In terms of temporarily chlorinating our water, the chlorine may react with iron and/or manganese that is present in the water mains. This reaction could break lose some of those minerals and cause a temporary discoloration of water. This could cause a black or reddish-brown color, but it does not present a health threat. It is suggested that consumers let the water run for a few minutes to flush plumbing of the discolored water before using it for cooking or laundry. Fish tanks and bait shops should not use chlorinated water in tanks during the time chlorination is taking place.
We want to ensure that accurate information is available to the community. To help answer comments and questions, the INFORMATION LINE number is still available. That number is 651-554-3291 and will be staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on regular business days. Once this issue is resolved, we will once again place a notice on the City’s website and Facebook page.
We apologize for any inconvenience this is causing you and we are taking all necessary steps to achieve a complete resolution of this issue. Thank you for your patience and understanding.