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Pleasant Prairie Water Utility Samples Indicated Need For Additional Testing - Three Samples Indicated Potential For The Presence Of Bacteria - Subsequent Water Samples Have All Tested SAFE
Samples taken as part of the routine testing of Pleasant Prairie’s drinking water showed levels of bacteria that exceeded state standards for total coliform and, in one case, the presence of E.Coli bacteria. These issues were reported to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the same day that the Village received the results of the sampling. Since that time, more than 40 repeat samples have been taken, and ALL HAVE TESTED SAFE.
The water utility has concluded that the three samples showing the elevated levels of bacteria were due to a cross contamination of the samples from untreated wastewater resulting from the manner in which they were collected and are not indicative of a problem within the water system itself. The Department of Natural Resources advises there is no way to verify if errors occurred or an actual unsafe condition existed. The Department believes this incident posed an unacceptable risk requiring immediate public notification.
Typically, water samples are collected on one day and sanitary sewer samples are collected on a separate day. On Tuesday, June 5 and Thursday, June 7, both sanitary sewer samples and water samples were collected at the same time. Samples for the industrial sewer sampling program and sewer split samples for the City of Kenosha Water Utility were collected at the same time that water distribution samples were collected. The practice of collecting sewer and water samples simultaneously has been discontinued to ensure that cross contamination of the samples will not occur again.
Pleasant Prairie’s Water Utility typically draws eight water samples per month. Each sample is collected sequentially from eight separate locations throughout the Village water distribution system. Once water samples are collected, they are sent to an independent lab. Once received by the lab, a 24-hour test is performed to indicate whether or not contaminants are present in the sample. Once the lab has recorded the results, the Utility and the DNR are notified of the outcome of the testing. When the utility learned of the unsafe samples collected on June 7, they collected a series of 10 investigation samples on Monday, June 11 and Tuesday, June 12. All ten samples tested “SAFE”. AN ADDITIONAL 30 SAMPLES TESTED SAFE ON JUNE 13th.
When a water system collects and tests fewer than 40 samples per month, as is the case with the Pleasant Prairie Water Utility, the presence of more than one coliform bacteria positive result is considered in violation of the state standards. Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria may be present. Additionally, under Wisconsin DNR regulations, where there is a repeat test showing the presence of E. Coli, the water is considered in violation of state standards. NO REPEAT TESTS SHOWED THE PRESENCE OF E. COLI WITH THE PLEASANT PRAIRIE WATER UTILITY'S SAMPLES.
Most coliform bacteria do not cause disease, however, E. Coli is of concern. E. Coli is a species of coliform bacteria that can make you sick. Fecal coliforms and E. Coli are bacteria whose presence indicate that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. They may post a special health risk for infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems. The DNR regulations encourage you to share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly, for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses. You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or email.
What precautions should now be taken?
The water is now safe for all uses. The period of concern is between the time the first unsafe sample was collected on June 5th and when the last of the safe investigation samples were collected on June 12th.. It cannot be confirmed with certainty whether the unsafe samples collected June 5-7 reflect actual unsafe water; or whether they were due to sampling or laboratory error. Individuals need to evaluate these facts and decide if they want to discard ice, beverages and food products from this period, or assume the risk of using products made with the water during the period of concern. The Department of Natural Resources believes that ice, beverages and food products from this period may not be safe and as a precaution advises individuals to discard them.
Mike Pollocoff, Village Administrator, explained, “Both the Pleasant Prairie Water Utility and the State Department of Natural Resources closely monitor the public drinking water supply.” Residents seeking more information about the quality of the drinking water supply provided through the Pleasant Prairie Water Utility should receive their annual Water Quality Report at the end of the month of June.