A single water line in south Pine, which has been testing positive for coliform bacteria, is anticipated to be given a clean bill of health either late today or tomorrow morning, a Gila County Health Department official said Tuesday.
"I have been informed that Brooke Utilities has flushed and chlorinated the line, and that the contamination was located to just one line," said Tim Rowe, environmental health engineer for the Payson office of the Gila County health department.
"What has to be done is that samples have to be taken and analyzed," he said. "It's my understanding that Brooke Utilities did that yesterday (Monday), and that they are waiting now for the analysis to be completed. We anticipate that the samples will probably show that the water is free of total coliform bacteria, and that the flushing and chlorination will be successful."
Rowe said that, although he wasn't certain, he anticipated that the most recent test results would provide answers "either late today (Tuesday) or Wednesday morning. But it's important for those residents and everyone to know that water can be safe to drink even when it has total coliform bacteria in it."
Coliform bacteria are microorganisms that usually occur in the intestinal tract of animals, including man, and are the most widely accepted indicators of water quality in the United States. The potentially deadly strain of e. coli known to have appeared in hamburger and unpasteurized fruit juices is not among the microorganisms which can thrive in water.
The coliforms in the south Pine water supply were originally discovered by an area food-business owner who is required by law to test the liquid a minimum of one time per year. As demanded by federal law, he was forced to close his business until the problem is corrected and is now irate because the problem remains unsolved and "I haven't heard anything from anybody. Not a thing. I don't know what's going on.
"We can't do anything here until I get that letter (from Brooke Utilities stating that the water is coliform-free)," he said. "I'm hoping that I hear something today on the results of those water tests, or I've got to go take them myself."
The Brooke Utilities telephone number listed in the Qwest white pages was not functioning as of press time, so company officials could not be reached for comment.
In the Roundup's edition of Friday, April 27, Sally Bronkowske, a resident of Pine and Brooke Utilities customer, was misidentified as a spokesperson for the company. The contents of the quoted announcement, however, did come from Brooke Utilities.