Water test: 'possible health concern'
WINSTED â€” Some Winsted residents were surprised to learn this week that the United States Department of Environmental Protection found increased levels of unhealthy bacteria in the townâ€™s drinking water last month and that the town waited nearly two weeks after the initial findings to send letters notifying townspeople of the problem.
In a form letter dated March 23, Winsted Water Works reported to Winsted residents that tests conducted during the month of March indicated a presence of coliform bacteria in excess of drinking water standards.
â€œThis is a violation of drinking water standards and Section 19-13-B102(i) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, which requires us to notify you of this situation,â€ the letter noted.
â€œThe Winsted Water Works was notified on 3-10-10 of the presence of total coliform bacteria. On 3-11-10 Winsted Water Works retested at nine locations and all samples tested negative for total coliform bacteria.â€
Town resident David LaPointe said Monday that he had just received the letter identifying the problem.
â€œItâ€™s nice getting the notice, but itâ€™s a month late and a dollar short,â€ he said. â€œI think we should get a rebate.â€
Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Water Superintendent James McCarthy said the letter to residents was a routine procedure.
â€œWe sample the water and it goes to a lab, which calls us and tells us if we have coliform,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s when we start testing for E. coli [occasionally harmful bacteria often responsible for food poisoning]. Those tests all came back negative, so the situation is basically over with.â€
McCarthy said the state of Connecticut requires water departments to notify property owners by mail within 30 days of a positive test for bacteria, but those letters often do not reach every resident, tenant and employee in town. He said if a second test had revealed excess levels of bacteria, the water department would have issued a press release declaring a public health alert.
â€œIf it was a serious problem, people would have known immediately,â€ he said.