On April 12, an email was sent to the campus community about the drinking water at Millersville. The headline read, “Tests Showed Coliform Bacteria in Millersville University’s tap water.”
Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Millersville, Patrick Weidinger, says it’s important to note that the only two samples that came back positive for total coliform bacteria were both collected at the same sink from the same bathroom at Brooks Hall.
“We are almost certain this was related to either the very unclean conditions in that bathroom/sink area and/or sampling error by the water technician who collected the samples,” said Weidinger. “We do not believe there is any problem with contamination of our entire drinking water system or any other building/area. As a matter of fact, we don’t believe the water from that particular sink was contaminated with coliform either. We think the coliform came not from the water but from the unsanitary conditions in the bathroom itself and cross contamination, of the water sample, by the tech.”
Weidinger went on to explain, “When we sample and test our water for coliform, we also test the chlorine level. Chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water and we are required to maintain a minimum level of chlorine at all times. The test results showed we had more than the minimum amount of chlorine required.”
Anytime the university gets a positive sample result for coliform the same sample is then immediately analyzed to see if that coliform is fecal coliform (E Coli). In both cases, it was not.
“All subsequent tests, and in fact, all of the other water test we have collected since this first began, have also been negative for coliform,” said Weidinger.
“To be on the safe side we also sampled the raw water from the well. This did not contain coliform. In addition, we will continue to sample the water from Brooks Hall. We are not required to do this, but we feel it is a prudent measure,” continued Weidinger.
The email was sent out because once the university received two positive water sample test results for coliform, a notification is required. What was sent out was a generic email used by many public water systems to notify their customers and this is why the notification did not go into any of these details.