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Presence of total coliform revealed in test of University’s water

| Friday, April 28, 2017

Updated Friday at 7:18 p.m.

The water on the north end of Notre Dame’s campus has tested positive for total coliform, a naturally occurring microorganism which does not cause illness itself, the University announced in an email to the Notre Dame community April 28. According to the email, the University made the community aware of this result because the presence of coliform may also indicate the presence of other bacteria and the University  believes it has “the responsibility to make [students] aware of this matter.”

The email said the University has taken several steps “out of an abundance of caution” to ensure the continued safety of the campus water. These measures include continuously flushing and monitoring the water lines, isolating areas of the water line system and checking for potential sources of the contamination.

University spokesperson Dennis Brown said these precautions have already resulted in a decrease in the amount of coliform in the water supply.

“Testing this weekend has shown a substantial decrease in the coliform counts throughout the system,” he said in an email. “There continues to be no sign of E. coli bacteria in the water. We are continuing to flush and treat the system and will have an update for the campus early this week.”

Anyone with severely compromised immune systems might want to go seek advice from a health care provider, the email said. However, the University said no extraordinary measures need to be taken to resolve the contamination and no extra precautions are necessary when drinking the University water.

While the water did not initially test positive for E. coli, the University sent a follow-up email to the community May 9 to report that E. coli had been found and accidentally overlooked in the initial tests. According to an email sent Friday, however, representatives from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) “noted in their report that they believe the E. coli positive sample of April 20 to be due to sampling error, faulty plumbing installation, or another issue, and  not indicative of the water from the University’s potable water system.”

The same email also stated that daily water tests indicate the campus water system has been free of total coliform since May 8.

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