By Kevin Deutsch
According to a new municipal report, a testing lab failed to properly notify Coral Springs that four samples of its drinking water tested positive for E. coli contamination last May, leading the city to change labs and take other actions that ensure its water is safe.
On May 6, 2020, private lab testing revealed what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a maximum-contaminant level (MCL) Violation triggered by multiple water samples that included E. Coli bacteria.
The violation means testing revealed that “the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water” was surpassed, according to the city’s 2020 Water Quality Report.
No other violations were found.
“We found E. coli bacteria, indicating the need to look for potential problems in water treatment or distribution,” the annual report states.
In the past year, the Coral Springs Water Treatment Plant has not had any samples test positive for E.coli, and its water is safe to drink, city officials said.
“The public health was never at risk,” said Alvan Jones, the city’s Water Plant Superintendent. “Our disinfection process fortifies the water with a healthy disinfectant residual that makes it difficult for E.coli and other bacteria to thrive in the water.”
Tweeted out by the city June 30, the water quality report said Coral Springs “failed to take all required repeat samples following an E. coli positive routine sample. E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes.”
The likely source of the contamination, the report states, was “erosion of natural deposits.”
Paula Rubiano, Digital Media Manager for Coral Springs, said that “all samplings are sent out to a private lab who is required to notify water plant personnel by phone immediately if any samples show the presence of bacteria.”
But on May 6, 2020, “the lab failed to notify the City of Coral Springs via phone about positive test results for E. coli in 4 samples.”
Additional samples were sent to two other labs for testing, and “test results from both samples came back negative,” Rubiano said.
In response to the initial, positive sampling, said Rubiano, the city took “corrective actions” such as switching to a different lab services provider and “updating the internal protocols and conducting a Level 2 Assessment; a very detailed study of the water system to identify or look for sanitary defects in the system.”
The city report said the discovery of E. coli bacteria indicated “the need to look for potential problems in water treatment or distribution. When this occurs, we are required to conduct assessments to identify problems and to correct any problems that were found during these assessments.”
According to the report, E. coli is a human pathogen found in waste and “can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. It “may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.”
The EPA requires municipal monitoring of over 80 drinking water contaminants.
According to the report, the city has emergency interconnections with North Springs Improvement District, Coral Springs Improvement District, and Royal Waterworks, three other utility providers within the corporate limits of Coral Springs. The city also has emergency interconnections with the cities of Margate and Coconut Creek.
The city’s 2019 Water Quality Report found no violations.
“We are committed to the safety of our residents,” Rubiano said.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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