City of Blaine well has high bacteria level

Published on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Recent tests of water quality at one of the city of Blaine’s wells revealed higher than allowed levels of coliform bacteria.

The levels of bacteria, while higher than the Washington State Department of Health allow, have not put anyone drinking the water in serious danger, Blaine public works director Steve Banham said. Further testing revealed the well did not contain fecal coliform bacteria or E. coli, he explained.

“You don’t need to boil your water,” Banham said.

The city will include notification in residents’ next water bills that the bacteria were found, as the state department of health requires. The notification suggests that the elderly, infants or others with weakened immune systems should consider contacting their doctors for additional guidance.

The tests were conducted on Blaine’s well 7, which is located on 12th Street, Banham said. This particular well is only active in the summer, and Banham said the higher-than-allowed levels of coliform bacteria in it most likely resulted from inadequate flushing before the well was brought into service for the season.

The state health department required the city to take further samples after the bacteria was initially found, but those tests came back negative. Coliform bacteria are naturally found in soil and grass but can be a sign that more dangerous types of bacteria are present when found in water, Banham explained.

Well 7 is one of the city’s oldest wells and is slated for replacement by next summer. The city has completed the necessary paperwork for shifting the well’s water rights to a well proposed for the Lincoln Park area. Banham expects the risk of well contamination in that area to be lower because of the more natural surroundings.

For more information, contact Banham at 360/332-8820 or