Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard.  As our customers, you have a right to know what happened and what we did to correct this situation.

From 9/1/13 to 9/18/13 we took fifty-eight (58) samples to test for the presence of coliform bacteria. Three (3) of those samples showed the presence of coliform bacteria.  The standard is that no more than one (1) sample may do so. One (1) sample also showed the presence of E. coli bacteria.

What should I do? 

 If you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor. People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at 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 l (800) 426-4791

What does this mean?

 Total 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.  Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes.  Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.  They may pose a special health risk to infants, young children, some of the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems. Coliforms and E. coli  bacteria 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 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 find E. coli bacteria in one of our subsequent tests and notified you immediately. Further testing shows that this problem has been resolved.

What happened?  What was done?

 On 9/3/13 eleven (11) samples were taken and one (1) came back positive for total coliform.  On 9/5/13 repeat samples were taken at that location and at designated up and downstream locations.  Two (2) repeat samples came back positive for total coliform and one (1) of those also came back positive for E. coli bacteria.  On 9/6/13, after the Department was notified of the detection of the E. coli bacteria, the DEP was notified, chlorination began and   a “boil water order” was issued to the public. On 9/7/13 three (3) repeat samples and sixteen (16) other samples were taken and all came back negative. On 9/8/13 all nineteen (19) were re-sampled and came back negative. On 9/9/13 DEP lifted the “boil water order.” On 9/16/13 the Department took seven (7) samples  and all came back negative . The Department plans to continue chlorination until at least October 4, 2013.

For more information, please contact Chris Wiseman at 508-428-2687 or at the Cotuit Water Department, located at 4300 Falmouth Road in Cotuit.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

This notice is being posted by the Cotuit Water Department, PWS #4020003,  on September  20, 2013.