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St. Lawrence Central waiting for water testing results

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BRASHER FALLS — St. Lawrence Central School officials hope to know today if the water at the elementary school is OK to drink again.

A letter from Principal Johnathan R. Hirschey advised parents this week of the boil-water advisory at the school after the state Department of Health reported that a sample tested positive for total coliform bacteria.

However, there was no E. coli detected in the well water, according to Fred H. McLaughlin, the district’s director of transportation, buildings and grounds.

“As a result, our building has been placed upon a boil-water advisory as the water has been deemed non-potable,” Mr. Hirschey said.

Bottled water is being used at the school until the water is cleared by the Department of Health for drinking, although it is suitable for other uses.

“They said hand washing was fine,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

He said that until test results come back, he is not sure what caused the problem. The district conducts bacteria tests each month, he said.

“The November test came back positive for total coliform, which is bacteria. E. coli was negative; that’s the bad one. What that tells the Health Department is something is contaminated,” he said.

Possible contamination sources being investigated are water softeners that were installed at both the elementary and middle/high school on Oct. 29, according to Mr. McLaughlin. The tests have been positive since then, he said.

“We took water samples after the softener,” he said. “We took the test Nov. 5, a week later. On the sixth, it came back as positive. They took four tests on the seventh. All four of those came back as positive, which would make sense.” he said.

Because Monday was a holiday, another raw water sample test was not taken until Tuesday.

That is when the district was notified of the contamination.

Water fountains were turned off at the elementary school. Cooking is done at the other school, so meals at the elementary school were not affected, Mr. McLaughlin said.

On Wednesday, officials “super-chlorinated the well,” he said.

“Shocking it is what we’re doing. If it’s the softener or well, this will take care of it and probably fix the problem,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

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