Saturday January 5, 2013

Berkshire Eagle staff

Tests that indicate the presence of potentially harmful bacteria came back positive in the water systems at the Sheffield Water Co., and Lanesborough Fire and Water District in November, but it’s since returned to normal.

Sheffield Water Co., identified Coliform bacteria in four out of 18 samples in early November.

The Lanesborough Fire and Water District reported the bacteria in two out of 10 water samples collected.

Coliform bacteria, from fecal matter, is naturally present in the environment. Its presence in certain numbers can signal other potentially harmful bacteria are present.

Sheffield Water Co., President Beth Bartholomew declared there are no problems with the water it serves to about 490 households.

Nineteen additional tests have been conducted -- including tests at the previously contaminated sites -- and Coliform was not identified in any of the samples, she said.

Bartholomew said that she was unsure why the November samples indicated any contamination.

"There is no problem," Bartholomew said. "It continues to test fine."

The Lanesborough Village Fire and Water District serves 830 residential users and 34 commercial users.

District Superintendent Dave Santolin could not be reached on Friday.

A press release indicated that subsequent sampling indicates that the problem has been resolved: "No bacteria were detected in any sample collected from the water source wells, and no E. coli bacteria were detected in any sample. This was not an emergency."

The standards set by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection require public reporting of anything more than one Coliform sample per month. Coliform poses a risk to people with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly.