EPA to Barrigada/Mangilao: keep boiling water, despite GWA statement
Guam - The Guam Environmental Protection Agency continues to warn residents in Mangilao and Barrigada to boil their water despite a press release from the Guam Waterworks Authority stating the water is safe for consumption.
It was on Friday Guam EpA issued the Boil Water Notice for the two villages after water samples tested positive for E. Coli and Total Coliform. After the press release GWA issued one maintaining water islandwide is safe to drink.
GWA's press release stated the following:
"Guam EPA only runs a few water tests every year on "special occasions" such as following the storm we had this week. The GEPA samples are not run by personnel that do this task on a regular basis or by persons certified on the Standard Methods tests as specified in Section 1000 of Standard Methods. The samples reported as "positive" for indicator organisms by GEPA were also found to have a 0.5 mg/L chlorine residual - substantially above the USEPA specified 0.2 mg/L minimum called for under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Guam Primary Drinking Water Regulations under the Ground Water Rule. Further the GEPA samples, as reported to GWA bu GEPA, were positive only for indicator organisms; coliform bacteria and fecal coliform bacteria. The did not show positive for the potential pathogen e. coli.
The presence of chlorine in a "positive" sample invalidates the test without an immediate retest at the sample site where the original sample was taken and is only valid when the retest produces the exact same result. This retesting has not been done by the GEPA."
In response Guam EPA announced that samples in Mangilao and Barrigada were re-tested and again came back positive for E. coli and Total Coliform, respectively. Given these results, Guam EPA advises residents in these villages to continue boiling water before using it to drink, cook, prepare food and brush teeth. This advisory will be in effect until at least Tuesday.
"I have spoken with Guam Waterworks Authority's acting general manager, Mr. Tom Cruz, and we agreed that the best path forward with the ongoing situation is to err on the side of caution. The fact that Guam EPA's laboratory is confirming the presence of bacteria is a concern to Mr. Cruz and I, and our teams will do everything that they can to eliminate this risk to our residents as expeditiously as possible," Guam EPA administrator Eric M. Palacios said. "Our infrastructure is getting stronger, but Tropical Storm Halong brought a lot of rainfall and presented challenges when it passed by recently."
In response to the latest press release from Guam EPA, GWA issued the following comment:
GWA laboratory staff continue to test water in all testing points along with Mangilao and Barrigada villages. “Results of our tests will be made available as soon as we have them,” said Paul Kemp Assistant GM for Compliance and Safety. “We continue to maintain our water is safe to drink and for all other uses in all villages of Guam however if residents choose to boil their water that is entirely their decision”, he added.