Turlock, Ca- Starting today, Friday February 27th, 2009, the City of Turlock began chlorinating its drinking water system. Routine monthly monitoring detected the presence of coliform bacteria in some parts of the water system. The City of Turlock’s Municipal Services Director, Dan Madden, stated: “I’d like to stress to all of our water customers that this is not an emergency. The City has always taken great pride in the fact that we are one of the few remaining drinking water systems in the State that does not chlorinate its water. As a precautionary measure, however, and in consultation with the California Department of Public Health, we have decided to temporarily chlorinate our water system to resolve the coliform problem.” Once the City detected coliform, follow-up tests were conducted to see if other bacteria of greater concern, such as fecal coliform or E. coli, were present. “We did not find any of these bacteria in our subsequent testing,” Madden noted.
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. Coliforms were found in more samples than allowed and so, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health, the City began chlorinating its drinking water system on Friday morning.
Drinking water customers are not required to boil their drinking water or take other corrective actions. 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. City staff spent Friday morning calling those most affected by the addition of chlorine to the water supply such as industries, health care institutions, and the Turlock Unified School District.
In conjunction with chlorination, the City will be flushing water lines throughout the community to better integrate the chlorine into the system. The City will also conduct extensive testing to closely monitor the situation.
It is expected that the City will continue to chlorinate for seven days by which time the coliform bacteria problem should be resolved. The City will be providing a mailer in the upcoming utility bills about coliform bacteria in drinking water. In the meantime, residents are encouraged to check the City’s web site or call 668-5590 for more information.
“I’d like to express my thanks to the diligent professionals in our laboratory and utility crews who are working incredibly hard to address this problem,” Madden said. He advised that residents can expect to see utility crews flushing water lines throughout the community, and encourages everyone to drive carefully where utility crews are working in the streets.