Water users get delayed notification

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Ferriday water customers received written notices Tuesday afternoon that coliform bacteria were found in samples of the town’s water – more than a month-and-a-half ago.

Six samples of Ferriday’s water were taken June 11, and three of those samples were found to contain coliform bacteria. Nine water samples taken the following week from Ferriday’s water system all tested negative for the bacteria.

&uot;It’s certainly nothing for the public to be alarmed about,&uot; said engineer Michael Dowty of the Louisiana Office of Public Health’s Alexandria regional office.

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Such bacteria are commonly present in soil, but their presence in water samples can indicate contamination of a water system.

And in the notices distributed Tuesday, it was noted that such bacteria &uot;indicates that the water may be contaminated with organisms that can cause disease.&uot; Symptoms could include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, jaundice, headaches or fatigue, the notice stated.

&uot;But it’s possible that (presence of bacteria) could have been due to the sample taps, old sample bags being used or improper sampling procedures,&uot; he said.

Since the level of chlorine in the town’s water was high at the time of sampling, it is not thought that the system itself was contaminated, Dowty said.

In not notifying the public until weeks after the samples tested positive for bacteria, the Town of Ferriday was actually following the federal law, he added.

&uot;The EPA requires them to wait until the end of the sampling period&uot; to notify the public, he said. In this case, the sampling period in question lasted from June 1 through June 30.

By law, the town had to publish notice of the coliform bacteria violations in a local newspaper for two weeks and distribute notices to customers within 45 days -which it did.

According to information from the Office of Public Health, June 11 was the first time coliform bacteria had been detected in Ferriday water since a boil-water notice that was in effect for the town for 124 days in late 1999.

&uot;It’s been quite surprising how well their water’s done, … knock on wood,&uot;&160;Dowty said.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to make sure the town’s water is as clean as possible, said Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin. &uot;That’s why we’re flushing the (town’s water) lines this week,&uot; he said.