‘Are we going to get sick?’: Some Cedar City residents concerned after E. Coli found in water

Southern Utah News
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CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Cedar City residents on the Southeastern side of Main Street should boil any water before using it.

RoseAnne Shumway’s home is one of about 9,000 needing to boil water after officials say they collected water samples on Monday, Aug. 9 and found E. Coli. However, nearly two days went by before being notified.

“My concern was why weren’t we notified sooner? This is a serious thing, it’s a health issue, and why did they wait so long to let us residents know?” asks Shumway.

Robbie Mitchell, the water department supervisor, says on Monday, Cedar City collected six water samples from the distribution system with just one coming back E. Coli positive. He says in his 27 years of working for the city, he’s never seen an E. Coli positive result in the water.

“Samples take 24 hours to process, so we did not find out until Tuesday late afternoon, because we pull samples and run them at the state health department in St. George,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell says residents didn’t find out until Wednesday because the letter they shared with the public had to be approved by the state first.

“I understand you got to get the test results, but if they knew on Tuesday and we didn’t get notified till yesterday, that’s a big concern for me, that’s a health risk for my family, you know, concerned that they’re going to get sick. Are we going to get sick because we’ve been drinking the water?” asks Shumway.

Mitchell says it’s possible residents drank contaminated water before the results were made known to the public, but the Southwest Health Department isn’t reporting any sick residents.

“There could have been something in the hose bib, or it could have been air on our sampling. Those samples are so finicky that if any particle, and the wind blows, or any particles get into those sample bottles, it could trigger a positive,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell says the city is testing that same distribution system again Thursday, increasing the chlorine and flushing the entire system. Two days of negative results are needed before lifting the boil order.

“I just talked to the lab and nothing is showing up. It either got flushed out, and if it was air on our part, we have corrected that, and so far the first sample that we pulled yesterday will be negative and clean,” says Mitchell.

Officials say residents in the order need to bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using it, or use bottled water for now.

According to city leaders, if they get another negative test Thursday, residents will hopefully be in the clear, Friday.

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