Important Information About Your Drinking Water

Posted on  09/06/2013 9:35 am

Tests Showed Coliform Bacteria in Wilmington Water Department’s Water

Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard. Although this incident was not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know of the violation and what was done to correct this situation. The Wilmington Water Department routinely monitors for drinking water contaminants. We collected 154 samples to test for the presence of coliform bacteria during July. Eight of those samples or 5.2% of the samples showed the presence of total coliform bacteria. The standard is that no more than seven of the 154 samples may do so.

What happened? What was done?
Whenever a sample shows the presence of total coliform bacteria, we follow up each sample with three repeat samples. All repeat samples collected were absent for total coliform bacteria. The Wilmington Water Department continues to monitor water quality on a daily basis. Samples collected in August indicate that the water has returned to compliance.

What does this mean?
This is not an emergency. If it had been, you would have been notified immediately. Coliform bacteria are generally not harmful themselves. 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.

Usually, coliforms are a sign that there could be a problem with the system’s treatment or distribution system (pipes). 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.

What should I do?
You do not need to boil your water or take other corrective actions.

However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.
People with severely compromised immune systems, infants and some elderly, may be at an increased risk. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

For more information, please contact Sean Duffy, of the Department of Public Works at (302) 576-3074 or Allison Diggins, Environmental Health Specialist II with the Office of Drinking Water at (302) 741-8581.