Water Systems & Bacteria
The Oak Bluffs Water System is currently under a boil water order from the State (MA DEP). Monthly testing is required by the State at various locations on the water distribution system. If samples show the presence of Total Coliform bacteria then the Town must perform state required actions to inform the public and fix the situation.
Total Coliform bacteria are not harmful. They do indicate that other harmful bacteria may also be present. They are used as an indicator species because they come from the same source as the hazardous bacteria (the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals i.e. birds etc.)
Water systems are routinely chlorinated to assure that any bacteria that find their way into the system are killed. Incidents, which may cause a spike in bacterial counts, may be due to the water in the distribution system being stirred up. This is the same as when you drain your house plumbing and then turn it on again you see that the first water coming out of the tap is irony or discolored. Another source would be that surface water runoff (rain) from the woods has cross-connected and entered the water supply. This can be caused by a large rain event or a change in grading which causes the runoff to end up where it normally has not.
The County posts this information as a public service. The County is not involved in the regulation or the operation of public water systems. Below are some links to the State DEP regarding the regulation of water supplies.
Boil all water for at least 1 minute at a rolling boil, before using the water for any human consumption purpose. You may cool the water after boiling. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
Use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice cubes, washing foods, brushing teeth or any other activity involving the consumption of water.
Please share this information with all other people who drink this water!