Letter from Water Works no cause for concern

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NATCHEZ — A letter sent recently to Natchez Water Works customers is no cause for alarm, Natchez Water Works Superintendent David Gardner said.

The letter was generated when two samples of Natchez Water Works drinking water tested positive for coliform bacteria during September testing.

Gardner said there were 23 samples tested. State standards say no more than one sample can test positive without notifying customers.

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“The main thing to realize here is that when you get one contaminated sample, you take another sample to test,” Gardner said. “We did that and they all came back negative. There is nothing wrong with the water.”

Gardner said the contamination was likely on the sample bottle or some other foreign source, like hands or gloves used to handle the sample, and not in the water. He said the contamination could have even happened in the testing laboratory in Jackson.

“When you follow up and have good samples, that tells me the contamination likely wasn’t in the water,” he said.

Coliform bacteria are “naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other, potentially harmful, bacteria may be present,” the letter states.

Gardner said it has been more than five years since Natchez Water Works has had a unacceptable water sample test results.

“There are some people who receive the notice and it sets off an alarm,” Gardner said. “I understand their concern and we are happy to answer their questions.

“I can’t stress enough that we have very high quality water. We are exemplary to other systems where this happens more often.”

The letter says residents do not need to take corrective action or boil water. It does however say that residents with a severely compromised immune system, the elderly and infants could be at a higher risk.

Gardner said that disclaimer is a state mandate and not necessarily needed in this case.

“No water system operator wants this to happen, but when it does you have to go by the state procedure,” he said. “I can assure you there is absolutely nothing wrong with (the water.)”