Columbus City Utilities: E. Coli scare was false positive, water safe to drink
COLUMBUS, Ind.– Columbus City Utilities says the water they distribute is safe for drinking.
That’s a relief to residents who were told to boil their water Friday after tests detected the presence of E. coli.
The utility company says it conducts routine water testing 40 times per month at eight locations throughout the system.
On June 14, routine samples were collected and taken to a lab for testing. It takes 24 hours before the results are known. The next day, one sample from a production well tested positive for E. coli. It was shut down at 3 p.m.
The utility followed protocol in informing the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) within 24 hours of the sample.
Additional samples were taken from the same location, and they also took samples upstream and downstream. Those test results were all negative for E. coli bacteria.
The utility company says bacteriological sampling is prone to false positives. They say they get about three false positives per year for various contaminants. This is the reason it’s not required to report the findings until the results are verified.
On Saturday, it was confirmed that the production well was contaminated with E. coli. Enough time had passed since it was shut down that any contaminated water would have already been removed from the system.
The boil order was lifted at 3 p.m. Saturday. The contaminated well will remain closed until any and all corrective measures have been completed. IDEM will have to deem the well safe for use.
More samples were collected on Monday, and those results tested negative for any contamination.
The utility company says the water is safe and there was no actual risk to public health.