Reservoir breach sparks advisory

SAGLE — The Sagle Valley Water & Sewer District is expected to bring its drinking water reservoir back online this week after a gap in the structure’s roof seam was discovered.

The district notified its patrons last Thursday that it had isolated the reservoir from the rest of the system and flushed the system with chlorine to kill off any bacteria that made its way into the reservoir.

In its advisory, patrons were urged to contact district personnel or their doctors if they had specific health concerns. They recommended boiling water or relying on bottled water until the problem is resolved.

Sagle Elementary School officials opted to supply students and staff with bottled water, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Reservoirs that serve public drinking water systems are vented, although they must remain sealed to keep out birds, rodents or other potential contaminants.

IDEQ collected samples in close proximity to the reservoir after the gap was detected.

“Results were absent for E.coli, but they were positive for total coliform bacteria,” said Suzanne Scheidt, IDEQ’s Regional Drinking Water program supervisor in Coeur d’Alene.

A boil order was not issued because E.coli was not detected. Scheidt said coliform bacteria is not necessarily harmful in and of itself.

“But they are an indicator that other potentially harmful organisms could exist,” said Scheidt.

It’s suspected that the coliform bacteria entered the reservoir through dirt particles on the structure’s roof.

“If it rained since that breach occurred, dust that had possibly been collecting on the reservoir roof might have washed in,” Scheidt said.

A dozen samples were collected over the weekend.

“All of those results were absent,” said Scheidt.

Although the tests came back negative, Scheidt said the reservoir will stay valved off until the gap is corrected, which is slated for this week.

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