OKOLONA – The Mississippi State Department of Health issued a boil-water notice for customers who receive their drinking water from the City of Okolona water supply on Thursday and were told to boil water over the Labor Day weekend.
A random sampling showed the presence of total coliform bacteria in the drinking water last week and prompted the boil-water notice.
“We have corrected the problem, but we are still under a boil notice,” said Richie Cousin, superintendent of the Okolona Water Department. “We had a chlorinator go out on one of our wells and that triggered the samples to show problems.”
Cousin said the problem occurred Tuesday or Wednesday of last week and when the water test showed the presence of bacteria a boil notice was issued Thursday.
“We pump water from all our wells on specific days and our system is on a circle,” said Cousin. “All customers were affected.”
Cousin said the city tests the water monthly and when a problem occurs with the system like it did last week. Samples are sent to the Mississippi Department of Health for testing.
“Municipal drinking water is sampled all the time and we received a sample from the City of Okolona that had a high coliform bacteria count,” said Liz Sharlot, communication director for the Mississippi State Department of Health. “That indicates the possibility of a pathogen and for safety’s sake are asking people to boil their drinking water.”
Health officials strongly recommend all water be boiled vigorously for one minute before it is consumed. This precaution will last at least two full days and water system officials will be notified when the alert is lifted.
Sharlot said testing was done over the Labor Day holiday weekend, but she did not expect the boil notice to expire until the middle of the week.
“We have to get two days of clear samplings before we rescind the boil notice,” said Sharlot. “That could happen over the weekend, but we will probably not notify the city until about Tuesday. The best way for the community to keep up with this is through our website http://msdh.ms.gov and follow the links.”
The City of Okolona water system serves approximately 3,050 customers and gets its water from aquifiers in Chickasaw County.
Residents were told not to drink tap water from the Okolona water system until the boil notice is lifted. Tap water could be used for bathing as long as it was not swallowed. Residents were also being asked to run dishwasher through a cycle or two before washing dishes.
The elderly and the very young are the most susceptible to problems associated with drinking untreated water during the boil ban.