SHERIDAN — Water Superintendent Tom Manolis announced Wednesday that the city of Sheridan’s water system — which serves Sheridan, Downer Addition and Sheridan Area Water Supply (SAWS) customers — has received a notice of violation from the Environmental Protection Agency after two water samples taken in the same month exceeded maximum contaminant levels for coliform bacteria.
However, repeat testing in the same and surrounding locations came back negative, so Manolis said there is no danger to customers on the water system. He said if any subsequent bacteria had been found, the public would have been notified immediately.
Additionally, the two positive coliform samples tested negative for any pathogenic bacteria such as E. Coli or fecal coliform.
“We are confident that the water is safe. The EPA is confident, as well, because we use the same yardstick,” Manolis said.
Manolis noted that coliform bacteria are naturally present in the environment and are generally not harmful by themselves. They can, however, be a sign that there could be a problem with the treatment or distribution system.
As such, Manolis said the water treatment plants will be taking measures to improve testing protocol. This will include taking samples directly from the distribution system rather than faucets in residential and commercial establishments. He said this will ensure that water samples accurately represent what exists in the water distribution system since there are numerous ways coliform could enter a faucet.
Samples are currently taken 15 times per month around the community.
Sheridan’s drinking water received the same violation in 1994, 1996, 2001 and 2004.
While the water has been deemed safe, the EPA still requires the city to issue a notification of the violation within 30 days.
All customers of the system will receive a notice of the violation in their February water bill, Manolis said. The same notice will be published “boilerplate” style in The Sheridan Press. Boilerplate means the language is often formulaic, which can lead to more alarm or misunderstanding than is necessary, Manolis said.
“I would like to stress that every repeat sample returned bacteria-free, so we believe there is no health risk to our customers,” Manolis said.
Manolis also wanted residents to understand that the notice in the water bills and the notice in the newspaper refer to the same violation.
“It’s not two separate issues. It’s the same issue, so don’t be alarmed,” Manolis said.
Manolis said the city wanted to be proactive in notifying residents of the violation, so it released the information to the media before official notices were sent.
If anyone has further questions, they should call Manolis at 674-8532.