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Water System Advisories

Water System Maintenance Notice: About testing

What does a positive test mean?
A positive test means that the indicator bacteria were present in the sample. Positive test results can be due to the sample becoming contaminated during collection and not necessarily from bacteria in the water system.

Total Coliform and E. coli tests
The test method we use is the MMO-MUG test. This method tests for the general presence or absence of total coliform and E. coli bacteria. The test does not identify any specific pathological (illness causing) bacteria.

Coliform bacteria are naturally present in the environment and are generally harmless. These organisms are used as a general indicator that other, potentially harmful bacteria may be present. E. coli is a type of coliform bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated.

What does BCWS do when there is a positive test?
Because bacteria are present everywhere in the environment, and it is possible to accidentally contaminate a sample, OEPA requires us to do follow up testing any time we get a positive result to determine if the bacteria were limited to the sample or if there is a problem with the system.

When we have a positive test result, BCWS conducts an investigation and additional sampling to determine the cause of the positive sample(s). This may also include performing additional maintenance tasks such as re-chlorinating the lines in order to correct the situation.

Additional samples are taken until two consecutive sets of samples are negative for indicator bacteria before the advisory is lifted and the system is returned to normal operations.

Customer notification
Our normal procedure to notify any customers affected by system repair or depressurization is to deliver door tags. If the area affected is too large to deliver door tags, then we use media notification to inform customers. These advisories notify customers that a system disruption has occurred and that they may want to consider boiling any water used for consumption until the advisory is lifted. 

In most cases, advisories automatically expire within a 48 hour period. Depending on the specific sample results, the notice can be extended or changed to a boil water order. If either of these happens, a new notice will be issued to affected customers. 

In the case of E coli positive sample results a follow up letter will be issued after the situation is resolved and two sets of negative samples indicate the system is back to normal. This letter will list the results of all samples taken for the event in accordance with OEPA requirements. 

For additional information, please contact our Laboratory staff at 513-887-3066 during the normal business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.