School in Harford to keep using bottled water

Baltimore & Region


North Harford Middle School's use of bottled water was extended yesterday for at least 24 hours after bacterial contamination was detected again in the water supply.

The sample from the Pylesville school's mechanical room tested positive for total coliform, but not fecal coliform, the reason the water was shut off in August.

Pupils and members of the faculty and staff have been using bottled water and temporary hand-washing stations since the school year began.

A note to parents on North Harford's Web site said it is not uncommon for a faucet to become contaminated with bacteria between tests. Three additional samples were taken yesterday after the faucet was flushed with chlorine.

The water will remain off at least through today, the note says, until all 12 sampling sites are deemed safe.

Twelve follow-up samples were taken Friday, the day the results of the first round of 12 samples came back clean.

A second round of clean samples is needed before the water can be turned back on, and school officials were hoping that would happen yesterday.

Contractors broke a pipe during construction, and health and school officials think that caused the school's water to test positive for fecal coliform.

A note posted in the school and sent home with children warned of E. coli poisoning and instructed parents to boil their water, causing an uproar in the rural community that has drawn the attention of local politicians and brought other issues at the school to the forefront.

Health officials say the children were never exposed to the contaminated water. The school has spent about $1,100 a week to provide the school with 60 five-gallon jugs of water each day.

The school system is trying to obtain permits to use a backup well if needed. The well has been dormant.

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