EPA to lower notification standards for water bacteria tests

EPA to lower notification standards for water bacteria tests

LOUISIANA (KSLA) - Bossier City native and nurse Dustin Carlisle said his family's health is a top priority, including what comes out of his tap, a concern shared by his colleagues at Willis-Knighton Pierremont Health Center.

"They pass regulations to where even if we give people medicine or anything down, we have to use sterile water due to concerns with what's in tap water," Carlisle said.

That's why he said he appreciates it when the Bossier City Water System sends out notices of coliform bacteria test failures, which the system did in September and October. Those were the first back-to-back monthly failures in 30 years for the city.

Samples of water showed levels of coliform, a natural bacteria that could point to E. coli or Fecal Coliform, were too high.

"Those are only indicators of possible problems," said Bossier City Public Information Officer Mark Natale. "That gives cause to go ahead and further test to see if there are problems in the water."

No harmful bacteria was found and Bossier City passed in November.

But next spring, the Environmental Protection Agency is revising its Total Coliform Rule, ruling that only the discovery of E. coli or other bacteria harmful to people needs a public notice and coliform itself isn't a health hazard.

The EPA's fact sheet on the revision states this is to reduce implementation burden.

Bossier City's letter states the EPA believes all of these notices are scaring people for no reason.

But Carlisle said he wants to know everything.

"I would like to know anything I put into my body or my children's bodies," he said.

He thinks public information about water should be up to the city.

"I think it should be more on a city, state level," he said. "What's good for one place, I don't feel is good for everywhere."

The water testing standards are not being lowered, just the notification standards.

Bossier City leaders stress their water is safe and if E. Coli was detected, they would take immediate action by notifying the public through the media instead of waiting to send a written notice.

Does coliform present a health risk to you and your family?

Bossier City leaders say coliform are generally harmless by themselves.

State regulations report people with severe immune system disorders, infants and the elderly may be at increased risk.

Those wanting to take any extra precautions are recommended to consult a doctor.

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