News Feature | April 26, 2017

Following E. Coli Contamination, San Diego Issues Boil Water Advisory

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

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Earlier this month, a water boil advisory was issued by the County of San Diego’s Department of Environmental Health for a local water system that tested positive for E. coli.

According to a county news release, obtained by the Times of San Diego, “The drinking water system has tested present for E.coli and total coliform bacteria. The presence of E.coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes.”

The water system in question serves a campground “made up of 211 campsites with RV hook-ups, cottage and cabin rentals, club house, restaurant, swimming pool, office, public restrooms with showers and maintenance building.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “recommends that water be brought to a rolling boil for one minute before it is consumed in order to kill protozoa, bacteria and viruses.”

The advisory stayed in effect until lab results determined that the water was safe to drink. E. coli is associated with many health concerns and it “may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.”

In June of last year, in Corpus Christi, TX, the city issued three orders in less than a year urging its residents to boil their water to ensure that it is safe to drink.

Like many cities in the U.S., Corpus Christi is one of many communities in the country attempting to deal with aging infrastructure.

“We’re talking about supplying water in the year 2016, and we’re having these problems over and over again,” local resident Rene Vela said, per the Denton Record-Chronicle. “It’s starting to affect my family, my employees and I’m sure the rest of the city. It’s ridiculous.”

The issues of safe drinking water and aging infrastructure gained national attention in recent months since to the crisis in Flint, MI. Since then, various testing for contaminants such as lead has been on the rise, especially in schools.

Greg DiLoreto, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, said an additional $105 billion must be spent to modernize water and wastewater treatment facilities, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

“If you want fewer incidents and you want quality water, you’re going to have to increase water rates,” DiLoreto told the Denton Record-Chronicle. “We’re not understanding the true cost of operating, maintaining and replacing a full water utility.”

Also in June, Sioux City, IA, encountered environmental penalties for getting rid of “improperly treated sewage” containing high levels of E. coli bacteria.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wanted the Attorney General to take civil action against the city for the illegal discharges over an 803-day period between March 2012 and June of last year, according to the Sioux City Journal.

"Because the city did not properly disinfect its wastewater, the city was discharging wastewater high in bacteria," the DNR said. "Bacteria have known harmful effects on human health."

The state agency noted the Missouri is a recreational river where swimmers, boaters, canoeists, and water skiers may come into prolonged and direct contact with the water."

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Camping, June 2006" eltpics © 2006 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/