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Southampton water safe but chlorinated ‘as a precaution’ after coliform found

SOUTHAMPTON — Water Department Superintendent Joseph Slattery said town officials chlorinated the town’s water early this week “as a precaution” after finding it contained a harmless, naturally-occurring bacteria. He said the water was always safe to drink.

Three of six routine samples of town wells taken on Sept. 5 tested positive for coliform bacteria. “Coliform is not a harmful bacteria, it’s an indicator,” Slattery said.

The presence of coliform may indicate that other harmful bacteria, such as E.coli, might be present, but further testing showed there was no harmful bacteria in the town’s water.

But after a second round of samples found coliform again, town officials opted to chlorinate it just in case, Slattery said. On Wednesday, after the treatment, tests found no coliform.

A few residents complained of the taste in the days after the chlorination, but Slattery said Friday that should be gone by now.

Southampton’s water last tested positive for coliform in April, but Slattery said he is not concerned about the frequency of the positive results. He said laboratory technicians indicated that many communities are having issues with the bacteria.

In a press release, water commissioners said that residents did not need to boil water or take any other action, but added that people with severely compromised immune systems, infants and some elderly people may be at increased risk of infection by microbes and may want to contact a doctor for advice about drinking water.

Per state law, residents will be notified of the test results by mail. For more information on the water testing, contact Slattery at 527-3666.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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