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Certain Suburban NY Areas Ordered To Boil Water After High Levels Of Coliform Bacteria Found

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posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 12:37 PM
Something's up in Rockland county, NY. There is an order in some communities to boil water until further notice because of unusually high levels of bacteria found in the water supply. Calls went out from the New York State Department of Emergency Services to all affected residents this morning:

NYACK, NY (AP / CBSNewYork) - About 15,000 customers in several suburban New York communities are being advised to boil their water due to the presence of high levels of coliform bacteria. The Rockland County Department of Health issued the order for Nyack Water Department customers on Tuesday.

Coliform bacteria are commonly found in water supplies but elevated levels are an indicator that potentially harmful microbes may exist. Symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches.

Health Commissioner Joan Facelle tells the Journal News tests didn’t show the presence of the much more dangerous E. coli or fecal bacteria.

Nyack Water Department Superintendent Harry Williams says the source of the contamination is being investigated. The order is expected to last 3-5 days for customers in Nyack, South Nyack, Central Nyack and a portion of West Nyack.

Full article is here: CBS News Article

At first, this seemed innocuous enough because they said "tests didn’t show the presence of the much more dangerous E. coli or fecal bacteria", but then I found the following on coliform bacteria (Wikipedia link) :

Coliform bacteria are a commonly-used bacterial indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water. They are defined as rod-shaped Gram-negative non-spore forming bacteria which can ferment lactose with the production of acid and gas when incubated at 35-37°C. Coliforms can be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation; they are universally present in large numbers in the faeces of warm-blooded animals. ---While coliforms are themselves not normally causes of serious illness, they are easy to culture and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of faecal origin may be present.--- Faecal pathogens include bacteria, viruses, or protozoa and many multicellular parasites.

Typical genera include:


Escherichia coli (E. coli), a rod-shaped member of the coliform group, can be distinguished from most other coliforms by its ability to ferment lactose at 44°C in the fecal coliform test, and by its growth and color reaction on certain types of culture media. When cultured on an EMB plate, a positive result for E. coli is metallic green colonies on a dark purple media. Unlike the general coliform group, E. coli are almost exclusively of fecal origin and their presence is thus an effective confirmation of fecal contamination. Some strains of E. coli can cause serious illness in humans.

Kind of makes you wonder, if the presence of coliforms themselves are not usually cause for alarm (as stated above), why have they sounded the alarm bells if they've supposedly ruled out the most serious forms of faecal pathogens which are the ones that cause the symptoms described in the article? Is anyone more familiar with these organisms who can shed some additional light as there's no intent of fear mongering here, merely a desire to better understand.

With everything that's been going on around the world with mysterious E. coli breakouts and what not, I felt this merited a mention to let everyone know, especially since the article says they haven't found the source of contamination as of yet.


edit on 6/22/2011 by timidgal because: clarification

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 01:10 PM
Thought this was interesting. I live in Plano texas and just received a similar letter from the city stating that Coliform was found in our drinking water during the month of April. Link and letter below

June 9, 2011

Gerald P. CosgroveDirector of Public Works(972) 941-7152
MCL Coliform Violation (TCR 22)

The City of Plano water system, PWS ID # 0430007, collected 23 water samplesduring April, 2011 that contained coliform bacteria. This water system is required tosubmit a minimum of 150 routine water samples each month for bacteriologicalanalysis. Twenty routine samples were coliform-found and three repeat sampleswere coliform-found for the month and year indicated above.The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) sets drinking waterstandards in Texas and has determined that the presence of total coliform is a
possible health concern
. Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in theenvironment and are used as an indicator that other potentially-harmful bacteria maybe present. Coliforms were found in more samples than allowed and this was awarning of potential problems.For water systems analyzing at least 40 samples per month, no more than five (5)percent of the monthly samples may be positive for total coliform. For systemsanalyzing fewer than 40 samples per month, no more than one (1) sample per monthmay be positive for total coliform.The City of Plano Public Works Department tests 150 water samples per month.These are obtained from all areas of the city to insure the public drinking watersupply is safe for consumption and are sent for final testing to a laboratory at theNorth Texas Municipal Water District, who treats and supplies our municipal water.In an unusual occurrence in mid to late April, 23 test results, out of 217 samples,returned with higher than acceptable results for total coliform bacteria, an indicator ofpossible contamination. No pathogenic organisms (those which cause illness) andno indicators of fecal contamination, such as
or fecal coliform, have beendetected. The samples had shown average chlorine residuals would protect thewater system from minor contaminations.
Since May 1, all water samples have tested “good,” with n
o presence of totalcoliform bacteria. For quality assurance, a private lab and environmental consultanthave been employed to review this issue. As a result, the City of Plano is doingadditional testing to find the reasons for the testing results.If you have questions regarding this matter, you may contact Gerald P. Cosgrove

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 02:12 PM
reply to post by MSUspartn
Thanks for posting the letter you received. I wish I had not answered my phone and would then have a recording of the words they used to compare. I wonder if there are any other places where this has recently occurred. Hopefully there will be additional responses...


posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 02:35 PM
I wonder why this isn't in the NY Daily News??

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 03:01 PM
reply to post by ProphecyPhD

I have no idea but perhaps because it's currently only affecting a limited population? Whatever their reason, it's still at least 115,000 people being affected and I am also surprised it's not being more widely reported.


posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 03:54 PM
reply to post by MSUspartn

Nice that they found out about the bacteria in April, and sent the letter in June. But hey, they only sent it out 2 months late.

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 10:53 PM
reply to post by timidgal

Kind of makes you wonder, if the presence of coliforms themselves are not usually cause for alarm (as stated above), why have they sounded the alarm bells if they've supposedly ruled out the most serious forms of faecal pathogens which are the ones that cause the symptoms described in the article?


This'd definitely put me on alert & raise questions.

Also, the fact that everything was all a bit sudden? One day, you're drinking water, using it to cook, clean, etc...The next day, chaos, warnings & phone calls about something, they say isn't potentially life-threatening? Way to contradict their own actions against the information they are giving out.

All sounds just a little fishy to me. & I would advise not drinking tap water, period (boiled or not). Better t stick to bottled water for the time being.

I'd rather you didn't take the chance of risking your own health.

I know it's not the most moral path, but in this case, is it possible to sue of negligence? Or in the case you do actually become ill, sue for health damages? - I actually think the whole point of their call was to cover their backs...If the symptoms of coliforms range from diarrhea to nausea, then they're just making sure you don't get the chance to later bring them to court & actually win.
edit on 22-6-2011 by SmoKeyHaZe because: spelling

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 10:55 PM
Just a quick update as I'm beginning to think that what's happening here on a limited basis should be seen as a lesson for us all. There are more than just a few people in town who have been sick without knowing why (myself included as well as 75% of my immediate neighbors) and I still don't see any coverage from the metro area MSM outside of local outlets which is VERY strange. The shelves in the immediate vicinity are empty of bottled water in the affected and surrounding towns (though you can still find it if you drive for a bit and larger shipments are expected tomorrow) and the town brought in a large supply of free bottled water for those folks who can't afford to buy it themselves. I'm viewing and sharing this info as a wake up call to all who are not taking suggestions for preparation kits seriously. Our local health department is estimating that it will take between 3-5 days for this situation to be resolved. If/when the real SHTF, there might not be ANY resolution so I would strongly suggest that everyone stop sitting around waiting to see if something will happen. Even if you think that the idea of the SHTF is a bunch of BS, you really need to be more open minded than that and hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Make sure that you have an ample supply of bottled water on hand for yourself, your family and your pets (as well as the other essentials outlined by many fine folks here at ATS). Seriously - just knowing that I couldn't walk out the door today and have immediate access to clean drinking water is a feeling I never want to experience again. It is scary and I really hope that some of us will learn from this and prepare.

Be smart and be well!

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 11:39 PM
reply to post by SmoKeyHaZe

I couldn't have verbalized this better, SmoKey, and don't worry, we're all being vigilant and using bottled water only. It's a relatively small community here, about 20 miles outside of NYC, where a lot of influencial people live due to the close commute. I have a feeling that this will not just "go away" as too many people have been affected and are livid over the same suspicious circumstances you stated. You're right - liability was most probably the motivating factor where disclosure is concerned and there are many savvy people in my community who know this. Right now, we're just trying to make sure that our less able neighbors make it through the next few days with whatever provisions they need and then, I'm sure, the legal aftermath will be considered by many. Our health department has yet to identify the source of contamination or give additional specifics as to what type of coliform bacteria was found, but as some of my more scientific-minded neighbors have pointed out, the amount of bacterial increase cannot be attributed to a natural or casual cause (such as a roaming herd of buffalo using the water supply as their own personal loo - silly exaggeration intended to make my point); it only happens when something goes terribly wrong and either the water is intentionally contaminated (doubtful because security is very tight) OR a substantial amount of sewage is somehow mixed with the drinking water. Either way, it's a chilling thought. I'll continue to keep everyone posted as more specifics are sussed out.



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