Health & Education

Coliform bacteria detected in local water again

12.14.2015 Dean Rhodes Health & Wellness

For the second October in a row, the Grand Ronde Community Water Association has found coliform bacteria in the area water supply and sent notices to its more than 950 customers.

A Nov. 25 notice said that 10 water samples were taken in October and four detected the presence of coliform bacteria. The state standard is not more than one test may indicate the presence of coliform bacteria.

The notice said that area residents do not have to boil their water or take other corrections actions, but if you have specific health concerns you should contact your health care provider.

“People with severely compromised immune systems, infants and some elderly may be at increased risk,” the notice said.

Coliform bacteria are generally not harmful since they are naturally present in the environment. However, they are used by health officials as an indicator of other potentially harmful bacteria that might be present.

The notice said follow-up testing did not find other harmful bacteria, such as fecal coliform or E. coli.

“After we completed our ice pigging project (scouring the inside of the pipes), there may still be areas that need to be flushed more aggressively,” the notice said. “We will start our annual tank cleaning ASAP, then start flushing the system with chlorine. Some areas may need to be flushed a second or third time to remove all the chlorine. … We anticipate resolving the problem within the timeline of the Health Division. This may be as long as a month as we have several tanks to clean and chlorinate to start the process.”

Water Association Manager Karl Ekstrom said multiple samples taken in early December have not detected any coliform bacteria, but that he is waiting for more samples to come back negative before declaring the water totally safe.

Ekstrom said the Water Association has received about eight calls from customers inquiring about the notice.

A similar notice was sent to Water Association customers in October 2014 when two of five water samples detected coliform bacteria.

In reaction to the notice, the Tribe provided bottled water at the Dec. 6 General Council meeting for anyone concerned about drinking tap water.

General Manager David Fullerton said the Tribe’s priority was notifying the membership and community.

“As far as I know, we have not had any specific requests for water from the membership,” he said.

In addition, Health Services Executive Director Kelly Rowe said the clinic has not treated anyone for illnesses caused by the bacteria.