MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Murfreesboro water system recently violated a drinking water standard when E. coli was detected in it, city officials announced Thursday. The situation was corrected, however, and no Murfreesboro residents are at risk, they added.
Murfreesboro Water System (MWS) sent the announcement in order to provide transparency and to assure community members they were not in any danger.
Officials said they “routinely monitor for drinking water contaminants” and took 113 samples to test for coliform bacteria in August.
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“At one of our sample sites in August, we had a sample that showed total coliform and E. coli bacteria,” MWS said.
At that point, officials said they “should have issued a Tier 1 public notice” and notified the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s (TDEC) Division of Water Resources within 24 hours, but “an error” prevented that notification from being sent.
“As a result of the total coliform and E. coli bacteria, a sample at the original site and a site upstream and downstream of the original sire were tested,” officials said, noting that neither the upstream or downstream site showed any coliform or E. coli bacteria at any time.
Follow-up sampling at the original site that tested positive for total coliform and E. coli showed only total coliform and no E. coli bacteria, which caused the violation, and further sampling was completed. All sampling sites now show no total coliform or E. coli present, MWS said.
According to officials, coliforms are usually a sign that there could be a problem with the system’s treatment or distribution system, such as the pipes, or the sampling protocol: “Whenever we detect coliform bacteria in any sample, we do follow-up testing to see if other bacteria of greater concern, such as fecal coliform or E. coli, are present. We did not find any of these bacteria in our subsequent testing.”
The situation has been remedied, MWS reiterated, noting that no Murfreesboro residents need to boil their water or take any other corrective actions. Those with any specific health concerns should contact their doctors, and people with “severely compromised immune systems” may be at increased risk and should seek advice about drinking water with their health care providers, officials said.
General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available through the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
MWS said the situation “is not an emergency.”
“If it had been, you would have been notified immediately,” officials said in the announcement.
As a result of the failure in notification, TDEC is reportedly having a third party complete a comprehensive assessment of the Murfreesboro water system and of the monitoring and operational practices to “identify and correct any causes of the contamination.”
“In addition, the Department is reviewing all protocols and conducting additional training to prevent this from occurring in the future,” MWS said. “Further testing shows that this problem has been resolved.”