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Tuner Industrial Park water customers given coliform notice

By Jane Hill

Daily Journal

SALTILLO – Officials overseeing the Turner Industrial Park water system are on the trail of a tiny bug in the works.

Tests on water samples taken March 11 indicated the presence of total coliform bacteria in the water system that serves the industrial park and about 66 residences in Saltillo, according to Lee County Administrator Ronnie Bell.

The county, which owns the water system, and the city of Saltillo, which operates it, informed all customers Thursday of the presence of the single-cell organisms that could pose a health concern.

Bell said the notice was not a boil order, but added that the presence of total coliform in water samples is not permitted under Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Notification of people using the system is required by law.

The source of the problem was being investigated Thursday by Saltillo Mayor W.K. Webb, who ordered the collection of follow-up samples both above and below the point in the line from where the original sample was taken.

The system is served by the Northeast Mississippi Regional Water Supply District, which operates a surface water system that serves both of Lee County’s major industrial parks and the city of Tupelo.

Tupelo’s water system was recently selected as the state’s entry in an EPA awards program to recognize the best public water systems in the country.

According to the EPA, total coliforms are common in the environment and generally are not harmful in themselves. The presence of these bacteria in drinking water, however, generally is a result of a problem with water treatment or the pipes that distribute the water and indicates that the water may be contaminated with organisms that can cause disease.

Disease symptoms may include diarrhea, cramps, nausea and possibly jaundice and the associated headaches and fatigue. However, these symptoms are not just associated with disease-causing organisms and may be caused by a number of factors having nothing to do with drinking water.

Boil orders are generally issued when the level of contaminants in the water is so high that it poses a definite health threat and people are asked to boil the water to kill all organisms in it before using it.

Frank Maples, director of the environmental firm that operates the water supply district’s treatment facility at Peppertown, said samples his employees took at the Turner Industrial Park booster station on March 6 showed no coliform contamination and good levels of chlorine when tested. Treating with chlorine is the accepted way of destroying these organisms in water.

Another sample was taken Wednesday and results from that test should be available today or Monday.

Bell said the secondary samples taken within the Turner Industrial Park system are being tested at the Lee County Health Department. Those results should be available today.

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