Water contaminant notice issued by Town

Following is the text of a press release issued by the Town on Friday afternoon (8/29) regarding contaminants found in the water supply.  Saturday test results will determine if a “Boil Water” order will be put into effect, and if so, residents would be notified by the Reverse 911 automated phone system.


Water System Monthly MCL Violation      August 29, 2008

                                                                                                            Press Release # 1

             During last weeks routine water samples, the Town of Amherst water system violated the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Total Coliform Bacteria in its water supply.  Of the 45 samples taken this month, two samples were positive for total coliform around the UMASS campus and one sample in North Amherst was positive for E. Coli bacteria.

Coliform bacteria are generally not harmful themselves.  Coliform bacteria, which are naturally present in the environment, are used as an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria are present.  Coliform bacteria was found in more samples than allowed by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations, this is a warning of potential problems.

E. Coli is a type of fecal bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans.  Very few strains of E. Coli cause disease, but they can cause gastro intestinal issues such as cramps and diarrhea.

Due to the three positive samples DEP has required that ten additional water samples be taken around the contamination sites.  These samples are being taken on Friday 8/29/08 and the results will be received on Saturday afternoon 8/30/08.

If the additional ten samples are bacteria free, then the town will have committed a monthly MCL violation and the event will be over.  If any of the ten samples are positive for total Coliform or E. Coli bacteria the town will need to issue a “Boil Water Order” for part or all of the town. 

The following steps should be taken if a “Boil Water Order” is put in effect.

1.         If you boil tap water for 1 minute or longer it can be ingested.

2.         Washing of food should be done using bottled or boiled water or use disposable kitchenware.

3.         Dishes washed in 160° water are safe, otherwise wash dishes with boiled or bottled water.

4.         Brush teeth with boiled or bottled water.

5.         Normal showering is fine, but do not ingest any water.  Sponge baths are recommended for children.

6.         Additional information can be found at www.epa.gov/safewater/ecoli.html

If a Boil Water Order is put into effect, it will last for a minimum of four days or until 3 consecutive bacteria free samples are taken.

We expect to have the additional test results back Saturday 8/30/08 in the afternoon and will release additional information at that time.  Further questions can be directed to the DPW at 259-3050.




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