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July 2, 2014

Laurel water officials dispute report

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —

Local water districts came under somewhat unwarranted scrutiny following an annual report from the Kentucky Division of Water. 

The June 18 report was submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and is officially known as the state's annual compliance report. 

Kentucky Health News asked the Division of Water for a detailed list broken down into areas throughout the Commonwealth. The most common violations regarded chemicals having to do with chlorination: trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids.

However, when it came to Laurel County and surrounding areas, Kentucky Health news claimed the most prevalent violation had to do with the presence of coliform bacteria, which is commonly found in any aquatic environment, soil, vegetation and even in the feces of warm-blooded animals.

According to local water superintendents, Kentucky Health News' report was somewhat off the mark.

The Wood Creek Water District, located in East Bernstadt, is the district mentioned in Kentucky Health News' report. According to its representatives, the mentioned coliform violation is nothing more than a clerical error. 

“We did have a single positive reading for coliforms in September; however, we did get three clear samples afterward,” said Tara Monholland, lab supervisor at Wood Creek. “There is a certain amount of human error — something could have touched the lid, or something could have fallen into the sample — that's why you have the follow up system of checks and balances of three repeats.”

Monholland also said that the violation Kentucky Health News reported should  have been rescinded at the state level before being submitted to the EPA. She attributes the oversight to the same problems faced at the water treatment level — human error.

“You can get a bad coliform sample that occasionally happens,” said Donta Evans, water superintendent at Wood Creek. “It's an indicator that your water doesn't have enough disinfectant in it. What can happen is the person handling the sample doesn't clean their hands or the bottle well enough. When that happens, we get another sample until we get three clear samples. If we don't, we issue a boil water warning to the public until we do.”

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