Fecal bacteria were present in samples of drinking water taken last month in Northeast L.A. but later testing showed no further signs of contamination, according to the L.A. Department of Water and Power.
The fecal bacteria posed no danger to public health because there were adequate amounts of chlorine in the water and no traces of E. coli, a potentially dangerous form of bacteria associated with human and animal waste, officials said. There is no need for residents to boil water, according to the agency.
An estimated 10,500 LADWP customers across a swath of Eagle Rock, Garvanza, Hermon and Highland Park were notified of the contamination in a letter dated July 18. The tests that showed positive signs of water with total or fecal coliforms – a type of bacteria – were taken on June 23 and June 24. Follow up tests on and after June 25 no longer showed signs of contamination. “Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator, or warning, that other potentially harmful bacteria may be present,” the agency said in its letter.
The agency is conducting the investigation to determine how the fecal bacteria made it into the water supply but all recent tests have not found any presence of total or fecal coliforms; all LADWP facilities were found to have been and continue to operate normally.
“Protecting water quality is our highest priority at the LADWP,” said Jim McDaniel, senior assistant general manager of the agency’s water system, in a statement. “While we do not know precisely why this water quality issue occurred, we do know that it did not pose a threat to public health and did not rise to the level that would have required immediate public notification and a boil water order. Nevertheless, we apologize to the customers who live in the area that was affected and we want to assure them that their water is safe to drink.”
A Garvanza resident who forwarded his copy of the LADWP notice to The Eastsider said he called the agency’s customer service line to get more information but spent 45 minutes on hold without getting more info.
“I’d like to know why this happened, what’s being done to prevent this from happening moving forward and greater insight into chlorine disinfection as a solution to this problem,” said the DWP customer. “Waiting on the customer service line 45 minutes to no response won’t suffice.”