Contaminated Spigot Caused Water Scare
Commentary on this story on Tuesday's Headlines Podcast .
One contaminated spigot at a private residence was the apparent source of the weekend water scare in Pinehurst and Seven Lakes last month.
County Public Works Director Marcus Jones confirmed that the source has been traced to one household where "a plumbing situation" was detected. The determination was reached late last week.
Jones said the household spigot has since been disinfected, cleaned, tested and retested, and public utilities personnel are almost 100 percent sure that the source of contamination has been detected and corrected. All test results have come back negative.
"It's been retested in all places over and over again, and it got good results every time," he said.
Jones said state regulatory rules require the actions that Moore County took in dispatching the water-boil advisory on Friday, Aug. 18. The advisory meant that all customers on the Pinehurst and Seven Lakes water systems were required to boil drinking water and all eating establishments were closed for about 30 hours that weekend.
Although the closing of restaurants and inconvenience to residents were unpleasant and serious, Jones said the county was simply following state law that is "very conservative and plays it on the safe side" to make sure that public health is protected.
"This is fortunate because it gives us assurance that our water supply is safe," Jones said. "We're talking about the potential to make 20,000 people very sick."
The advisory was issued late on a Friday evening after a routine test reflected the presence of fecal coliform bacteria in the Pinehurst system, which is connected with the system serving Seven Lakes. Residents were advised not to drink any tap water unless it was boiled during this period, and the Moore County Health Department ordered all restaurants closed until the advisory was lifted.
Public Utilities personnel spent much of their time Saturday making tests and retesting the system, both downstream and upstream, and the site where the contamination was detected.
Results were analyzed at a certified lab in Southern Pines, and the advisory was lifted shortly after midnight Sunday morning.
Jones also had a word of praise for The Pilot for timely reports through its Web site, which was updated periodically. He said The Pilot was the first to get the word out to the public about the water system shutdown and about its reopening on Sunday, Aug. 20.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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