Adam Springs Well Contaminated with E. Coli and Coliform

Posted in: Drinking Water News
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Article courtesy of J. W. Burch | October 6, 2014 | Record Bee | Shared as educational material

COBB >> The well of the Adam Springs Water System in Cobb has been contaminated with E. Coli and Coliform bacteria.

According to Cobb Area Water General Manager Robert Stark, the well was closed immediately last winter after the contamination was found. The well cannot be used until mitigation is complete, which may take a couple of years.

The cause of the contamination is currently unknown, and the district is conducting tests to uncover their origins.

“We’re drilling a series of test wells in order to determine where it might be coming from,” Stark said.

The Cobb Area Water System has a well approximately 200 feet away from the contaminated Adams Springs well, which is “clear.”

No bacteriological test has resulted in a negative result throughout the district’s distribution systems, meaning no contaminated water has ever reached customers, Stark said.

“There is a dichotomy that is happening,” Stark said. “We have test kits we are sending to a lab that can separate microbial bacteria that are associated with human and/or animal fecal matter.”

Word of the contamination was slow to trickle beyond the small system’s user base. When it was discovered, a public meeting was held, but only two residents attended.

Before contamination, the Adam Springs well produced “200 gallons of water a minute, all day long and would never drop an inch,” Stark said.

After testing is complete and the source of the Coliform and E. Coli are determined, mitigation will begin.

In the event that human waste is detected, it means that septic systems are failing and human waste is reaching the ground water, Stark said.

“If we find out that there is no human element in it, such as caffeine, sugar or antibiotics, then we know it is from animals,” he added.

The Adam Springs well is located near wetlands, which could also be the cause of the contamination.

But the testing is still in process and is determinant on obtaining funding from the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Drinking Water.

“When this began last year the board of directors put a three year window on the project,” Stark said. “Because everything has to be documented to the nth degree, the wheels turn slowly.”

Until the contamination is mitigated, the 77 customers of the Adams Springs Water System have been transferred to the Cobb Area Water System.

In total, Cobb Area Water oversees four water districts, with a total of approximately 680 customers.

“We’re still in the mystery stage,” Stark said. “We know that it is happening relatively local, but there are no nearby houses.”

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