WERI: Guam’s tap water safe for drinking - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

WERI: Guam’s tap water safe for drinking

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Is your tap water safe to drink? The Water and Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific is helping residents answer that question. Quite simply: if you've ever wondered if your tap water was safe to drink, it is.

KUAM News reporters filled six bacteria home tap water tests and brought them to WERI. According to director and professor of environmental toxicology Dr. Gary Denton, the Guam Waterworks Authority is doing its job of ensuring our water is safe from coliforms, or bacteria that are abundant in the environment that may cause disease.

"As a precaution the environmental protection agency requires GWA to disinfect its water in fact it's actually mandated by law. The water has to be clean it has to be free of disease causing organisms, and so they add chlorine to the water," he said. "When GWA chlorinates its water the test that you see here is to determine whether the efficiency of the chlorine is achieved. If there is no chlorine or if the chlorine is not at an intended level, coliforms that are natural in the environment will still be there. This test is really to check for the efficiency of the chlorination process, because it's coming straight out of the tap."

Dr. Denton says of KUAM's six samples, only the one from Yigo showed signs of coliforms, but none of the fecal coliform e. coli. Dr. Denton says the sample must be re-tested, but doubts there is need to be alarmed. "There could be bacteria in the water but you could have also contaminated the sample during collection, but we would need to go back and get a duplicate sample and test it again. If it's still contaminated then red flags are raised," he said.

Dr. Denton says it is also possible the home the contaminated sample came from may be at the end of a distribution line or that the home is close to a farm or a wastewater treatment plant. "99 times out of 100 it is safe to drink water from the tap," he continued, "there are occasions when it's not, and those occasions are after typhoons for example when the power goes down and the chlorinators stop working or the pumps start working."

If residents are experiencing allergic reactions and believe it may be from their tap water, dr. Denton says to consider other possibilities, including the change in weather or a change in laundry detergent. For those at home, the only time you need to be careful about drinking from the tap is when the power is off for long amounts of time.

He then recommends that residents take caution and boil their water. 

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