The City of Ephrata Water Department (State ID: 23650A) conducts monthly water testing, including for total coliform bacteria, at various locations to protect our safe and clean drinking water. During routine testing on 14-20 September 2010, this indicator-bacteria was detected. Although the incident was not an emergency, and later samples taken were free from bacteria, the public has a right to know what happened, and what the City has done in response to the situation.
The coliform detected are classified by State standards as non-acute. Coliforms are bacteria which are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other, potentially harmful, bacteria may be present. Coliforms were found in more samples than allowed and this was a warning of potential problems
. The coliform discovered are generally considered harmless. Samples, including each well in operation, were tested further to determine whether those other bacteria of greater concern were present. No such bacteria were found. This incident was not in any way related to the contamination that occurred last April.
It is not known how the coliform entered the waterlines. Despite proactive testing and mandated standards, waterline construction can cause this type of disturbance. The City has experienced this before during waterline construction; when new line is connected to existing pipe, valves are exercised, and old scale and debris are broken loose from the water lines not being replaced. As an additional precaution, the area, near the Amtrak station, was flushed at length, and samples taken since that time have returned clean and free from bacteria.
An engineering study was undertaken this summer to determine costs and methods of adding chlorine to the Ephrata water system. The water system master plan, including an evaluation of how chlorination would affect rates, is currently underway.
There was, and is, no need to boil water now. However, State Department of Health literature suggests that people with very weak immune systems could have increased risk. Contact your health care provider if you require additional guidance.
The City continues with increased monitoring and testing of the water in our lines, at residences, in the reservoirs, and directly from our wells. Ensuring safe and clean drinking water is the highest priority of the City of Ephrata Water Department.
This notice was mailed to each water customer in Ephrata, sent to local media outlets and the State Department of Health, published in the Grant County Journal, and posted on the City’s website. If you have any concerns or questions- please contact Ephrata City Hall.
Additional Contact Information
Department of Health:
City Hall Phone: (509) 754-4601 (Mon-Fri 7:30a.m. - 4:30p.m.)