The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lifted its boil order for the El Dorado Springs drinking water supply last Wednesday, Nov. 3, after it had been in place for about two weeks.

Just about everyone felt the effects of the boil order – no fountain drinks, no free water with meals, no brushing of teeth using tap water.

City Manager Bruce Rogers said it is the first time in his 30 years with the city that DNR has issued a mandatory boil order. Rogers said that several years ago the city voluntarily issued a boil order after a water main broke at Spring and First Streets and nearly drained a water tower resulting in a low-pressure situation.

“The water pressure got down to lower than 35 lbs. per square inch.  We issued a boil order until we could get the leak fixed, the towers refilled, the system flushed and tests came back clean.”

On the current round of water problems, Rogers said, “There is no indication of where the source was.

Rogers said that a routine water sample, showed e-coli in the water. In 15 or 18 more tests, it was not present.

“In my opinion, it was probably a false positive and there was never any real problem,” he said.

“When DNR came on Friday, one of the first questions they asked the utility staff was if we had a lot of rain lately. Of course, in early October, we did have a lot of rain, so that indicated to me they have had this experience where there has been a lot of rain and they’ve had a positive e-coli test where there was not a major problem.  They never seemed excited. DNR acted very nonchalant during the whole process. They told us if they were going to issue a boil order, they would contact us on Saturday. They didn’t contact us on Saturday. They didn’t contact us on Sunday. They didn’t contact us on Monday morning. We had to call them on Monday morning. They said they would get back to us by 11 or 12 that morning. A 2 o’clock, they still hadn’t contacted us. So, it obviously wasn’t something that was urgent.  They should have contacted us Saturday, if they really were concerned.”

“And the reason they issued it wasn’t an e-coli positive but a second total coliform positive.  Normally if we have one or two total coliform positives in a month, they never say a word about it. That’s why I say this time it probably was a little over reaction on their part. Maybe not that but an extra-precautionary measure because of one positive e-coli reading without any subsequent e-coli reading follow-up.

One question if I have – could anyone find a way to pollute a well?

I’m not going to say it couldn’t happen, but we tested the wells. There was no e-coli in the wells. There was no e-coli in the water towers.  So that wasn’t the source.”

“Historically when we have heavy rains, it raises the water table. It can lead to increased water pressure underground.”

“And what happens is, the pressure of the system is somewhere in the 50s and ground water is usually below 30, somewhere in the mid to high 20s maybe. As long as that imbalance exists, if you have a crack in your line, it’s gong to expel water out of the system into the groundwater. If your groundwater pressure exceeds the pressure in the pipes, then you will have groundwater forced into the system. And that is in all likelihood what happened. Somewhere, somehow groundwater got into the city’s water system on a short-term basis and it was never a serious public health threat.”

“The wells are tested. This is the only positive test for e-coli since I’ve been here almost 30 years.”

Rogers said, “I never stopped drinking the water. I was confident that we didn’t have a problem.

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