Clayton residents are being urged to boil tap water after routine tests turned up coliform bacteria.
Town officials said they are awaiting the results of further tests, which could be back today, to determine whether the water is safe to drink without boiling. The test results, which came back Monday evening and were announced Tuesday evening, showed coliform bacteria in two locations, said Byron W. Poelman, utility service superintendent with the town of Clayton.
Coliform bacteria are not harmful but can be an indicator that conditions are favorable for other, dangerous bacteria, according to town officials.
"I wouldn't worry at this point. It's isolated. We did flush the system in the area to make sure we have enough disinfectant in the water," Poelman said. "At this point I don't think there's any reason to be alarmed. Those samples could be contaminated any number of ways. Just touching the bottle in the wrong place could cause the sample to come back as a positive."
Residents are asked to boil for one minute any tap water they plan to drink or use for tooth-brushing, ice-making or cooking. Boiling water concentrates nitrates in the water and may be unsuitable for pregnant women or infants younger than 6 months, according to a news release the town issued Tuesday evening.
Every month, water officials test water from 15 locations. The tests Monday night showed that two locations on U.S. 70 had coliform levels in the water. Clayton officials consulted with state water officials on Tuesday, Poelman said.
And on Tuesday night, the town notified television stations to inform residents that they needed to boil drinking water. At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the police department was unaware of the advisory.
"We did what we thought was necessary," Poelman said. "The state recommended we do the advisory just as a precautionary measure."
Bob Ahlert, mayor pro tem, said he was not worried.
"Personally, I'm not panicked yet," Ahlert said. "I don't think there's any great alarm."
Staff writer Benjamin Niolet can be reached at 829-4521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.