Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Coliforms present in 'spring'


November 30, 2017

The Mud Bay “spring” tested positive again this month for total coliforms, a type of bacteria found in human and animal waste.

On Tuesday the assembly directed borough manager Debra Schnabel to post a sign at the spring indicating the water had tested positive for total coliform and that the source is surface water.

KHNS reporter Abbey Collins investigated the water source this summer and found it tested positive for E. coli. Some residents petitioned the assembly for the borough to test the water.

The borough collected a water sample from the water source on Nov. 6 and it was tested for total coliform, E coli, enterococci, fecal coliform and arsenic.

“The only test result that came back positive was the total coliform at 23 colonies per 100mL,” water and sewer plant supervisor Scott Bradford wrote to borough staff. “The presence of total coliform is an indication of surface water. We did not test for giardia or cryptosporidium, which could come from surface water contamination.”

Bradford said such a result in the borough’s drinking water supply would be a violation of its state permit.

Assembly member Stephanie Scott said there was some disagreement as to whether the water was from a natural spring, or if it was surface water.

Assembly member Tom Morphet indicated it was at least partially surface water.

“It runs a lot faster when it’s raining.”

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Drinking Water Program Manager Cindy Christian said E. coli, a type of coliform bacteria, is known as “indicator bacteria.” Its presence indicates there could be other pathogens or disease-causing organisms in drinking water.

The assembly did not authorize any additional testing of the water source.


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