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9:27 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

So-Hi water tests negative for E. coli bacteria<BR><BR>

The tiny So-Hi Water Improvement District received a clean bill of health from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality following June 29 laboratory results that tested negative to the presence of E.

coli bacteria, ADEQ officials said.

However, So-Hi is not off the hook, according to ADEQ.

The water district must take five water samples this month to test for total coliform counts, said John Calkins, manager of the drinking water compliance and enforcement unit for ADEQ.

If five samples come back clean, So-Hi may reduce its testing to the minimum requirement of one sample a month, Calkins said.

So-Hi took a routine water sample on June 13 that came back with a presence of total coliform, said Kurt Maurer, director of communications for ADEQ.

"It's not something that you want to happen, but it is fairly common," Maurer said.

The coliform test indicates that harmful bacteria may be present, and trigger additional testing, said Will Humble, office chief for the office of environmental health for the state Department of Health Services.

"Total coliform is like a shotgun approach, while the E.

coli (testing) is very specific for (detection of) pathogens," Humble said.

Pathogens are bacteria that trigger diseases.

In any case, results from the coliform testing prompted So-Hi to take three repeat tests June 15, and they all tested positive for coliform, Calkins said.

However, none of the water samples tested positive for E.

coli.

If E.

coli were present, "I would not drink the water," Humble said.

"I'd boil the water or use chlorine."

Harmful bacteria, such as E.

coli, can cause stomach aches, diarrhea and low-grade fevers, Humble said.

Humble said So-Hi could take engineering measures to reduce coliform counts, such as flushing pipes and adding chlorine.

"These are the two most common corrective actions," Calkins said.

"They are disinfecting and flushing the system.

You usually add the disinfectant to your storage tank and flush out the distribution system."

So-Hi tested negative to coliform counts from January through May, Calkins said.

Repeated calls from the Miner to So-Hi on Wednesday were not returned.