Havre Daily News
The Hill County Water District will remain under a boil order, a Montana Department of Environmental Quality employee said Wednesday. The 1,700 residents from Kremlin to Joplin who use district water should continue to boil water they drink or use for cooking.
DEQ environmental engineer Janet Cherry said Wednesday that a sample of district water taken Tuesday contained no chlorine. The district delivers unfiltered surface water to customers after adding chlorine.
The Tuesday sample was taken near Kremlin, "which is a huge problem," Cherry said. District water is chlorinated in Kremlin, so chlorine content should be strongest there, she said.
The boil order took effect Aug. 4 when a random DEQ sample of district water contained the bacteria E. coli and coliform. Those bacteria generally indicate the presence of human or animal fecal matter.
Officials determined that district water was not being sufficiently chlorinated.
Since the initial test that revealed the presence of bacteria, coliform was found again in mid-August and E. coli was found in a sample taken Aug. 28, Cherry said. No bacteria has been found in more recent samples, she said.
Periodically, other samples showed inadequate chlorine levels, but Tuesday's test was the worst, she said.
Cherry was preparing a letter to the district Wednesday to tell them about the decision to continue the boil order. The order does not affect Havre water users or people who use well water or another water source.
"I'm not really sure what the problem was down there," district president Dave Jones said Wednesday about the sample. "We are working on it," he added.
In August, Cherry said she had heard a device used to chlorinate district water had failed and was being replaced.
She said Wednesday she did not know why bacteria was found in August and chlorine was lacking in subsequent samples.
As part of the DEQ order, samples of district water will continue to be tested regularly for chlorine levels and the presence of bacteria.
E. coli can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Coliform does not generally cause illness.