Q I just got a notice in the mail from the city of Neenah about coliform bacteria being in my drinking water. It says the bacteria was detected on July 25 and 26, and the notice was signed on Aug. 7, but it came in today's (Sept. 3) mail. Why the delay, or is this something new?
A The notice of noncompliance with state and federal safe drinking water regulations relates directly to the boil-water order that was in effect from July 27 to Aug. 9 for residents and businesses in the area of South Commercial Street. There have been no new samples showing coliform bacteria in the water supply.
"The water is safe to drink," said Kent Taylor, Neenah water director.
The notice, which was mailed to all Neenah residents, was ordered by the state Department of Natural Resources. It explains that coliform bacteria generally are not harmful themselves but can indicate the presence of other bacteria that are of greater concern, like fecal coliform or E. coli.
The Neenah water utility found no fecal coliform or E. coli bacteria in subsequent tests.
"I would never have wanted to send that letter out," Taylor said. "It confuses the situation, but the DNR said we had to send out this notice of noncompliance."
Taylor said the water utility had 10 days to get the notice to the DNR and 30 days to get the notice to Neenah residents. The public will see the notice one more time when it's included in the utility's annual consumer confidence report for 2013. That will be published in 2014.
The coliform bacteria in the water supply was linked to an ongoing construction project on South Commercial Street, but the cause never was pinpointed.
"We have it narrowed down to a very small area," Taylor said, "but we're dealing with pipes that are underground. You can't do much with something that you can't touch."
- Duke Behnke: 920-729-6622, ext. 32, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @DukeBehnke