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The original item was published from 9/11/2018 3:46:00 PM to 9/11/2018 3:48:20 PM.

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Posted on: September 10, 2018

[ARCHIVED] MDH Issues "All Clear" for Round 2 Water Test Issue

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UPDATE (09/11/2018, 3:30 PM)

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has notified us that all follow-up water testing has passed and SSP water remains safe to drink.

Yesterday, MDH required we issue a notice because E. coli was found in one test sample site at a private location late last week. Staff believes that sample became tainted due to the location at which the test was conducted and due to an incomplete disinfection process caused by a failed valve in the site's plumbing system. Those issues were corrected and the most recent tests (09/10/2018) passed. It is important to note that the location of the failed test did not pose a health risk to the public.

Staff has received numerous calls today requesting additional information. Here is a quick FAQ about our recent notice: 

·    Was E. coli present in the City’s water distribution system?  
A)  No.  The “positive” E. coli test was at a private location.  We believe that resulted from an improper disinfection process related to a failed water valve.

·    Are there any outstanding issues that would make SSP water unsafe to drink?
A)  There has been no detection of E. coli within the City’s water distribution system and recent MDH testing has confirmed it is not present at other testing sites.  We did have positive total coliform test results a few weeks ago that were resolved.  Recently, a total coliform result occurred at a Park site that was part of the retesting process by MDH.  Test results received today (9/11) indicate that issue is also resolved.  All testing sites have MDH requirements.  As stated in early notices that cited 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.” 

·    What is the cause of the water issues SSP has been dealing with?
A)  We believe it is a combination of factors with the two most prevalent being construction activities in the City and the fact we do not typically add chlorine to the water system. 

·    Why do I still smell chlorine in the water?
A) We are continuing to add small amounts of chlorine to the water for a while longer until major construction activities associated with our water system are completed.

·    Why did you bother to send out the notice and then issue an all clear less than 24 hours later?  
A) The MDH required the City to issue yesterday’s notice because one test indicated the presence of E. coli and a follow-up test at the same location indicated total coliform.   We strongly believed those results came about because a filter system was not properly isolated from the testing area due to a failed water valve.  This lead to improper sterilization before testing.  Because of those two test results, MDH requirements mandated yesterday’s notice.  

·    How often does the City test its water system?
A)  Pursuant to MDH requirements, the City conducts tests of its water system with eleven (11) sites on the first Wednesday of each month and then a different ten (10) sites on the third Wednesday.  The sites are located throughout the City.  A certified, independent lab processes the tests.

We apologize for the concern caused by yesterday’s notice.  Rest assured that we are taking all necessary steps to provide a safe and reliable source of water to our consumers. Should you have further comments or questions, please contact our Hotline at 651-554-3291.  Staffing of this number takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on regular business days.  

UPDATE (09/11/2018, 12:35 PM): MDH has completed follow up testing and has stated all water tests have passed. More information will be provided soon.

Notice posted on 09/10/2018

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.


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