NORTH FORK — Businesses downtown were shuttered today, and residents who are part of the local Maintenance District (MD8) were told to boil their water or use bottled water after a routine test on Mar. 16 revealed the presence of two types of bacteria in the system.
Today, MD8 received results from the five repeat samples that were taken on Thursday; only one test came back positive for total coliform at the well, but no E. coli was detected.
“The boil water order is still in effect as a precautionary measure until we get passing sample results from those that were taken today,” says Dexter Marr, Interim Deputy Director at Madera County Environmental Health, who says that those results will be available tomorrow. “If results come back negative on Saturday we will lift the boil water order.”
In the meantime Environmental Health personnel are heading up to North Fork to inform the five closed food facilities that they are allowed to open as long as they perform precautionary measures like checking tap water for chlorine before washing produce or utensils, serving bottled water for consumption, boiling water for cooking, and stopping the use of the soda and ice machine.
Businesses that prepare and sell food were closed today, including La Cabana Mexican Restaurant, Slim’s Koffee Shak and the Pizza Factory. The Buckhorn was not affected as they have their own well, but the North Fork Market was also prohibited from preparing and selling food in their kitchen.
Gas ‘n Stuff — a major “refueling” spot in North Fork for those picking up chicken dinners, burritos and other to-go type food, was still open, but they were not allowed to do any cooking or prepare anything that requires the use of water, including coffee, unless it was done with bottled water. They were still providing pre-packaged food items and drinks in cans and bottles. And of course, the gas pumps were still open for business.
MD8 is a small community water system in North Fork which is operated and maintained by Madera County Public Works Special District. A routine bacteriological test came back positive for Total Coliform and E. Coli late Wednesday.
Once the positive results were confirmed by Madera County Special Districts they started the notification process of issuing a Boil Water Order (BWO) notice to all the residence and businesses that are served by MD8.
“The BWO was issued to protect public health and inform the residence how to properly disinfect their tap water by either boiling or chlorinating for drinking and cooking purposes as a safety precaution,” says Marr. “The use of bottled water for consumption was also recommended.”
The Special District has certified water system operators who are performing the chlorination and flushing of the system in hopes that all bacterial contamination is removed from the water system. The Special District will continue to investigate possible contamination points within the system. Repeat water samples are being taken and will continue until the issue is resolved.
“Public Works and Environmental Health are working diligently to resolve this issue,” says Marr, “and our main goal is to insure public health and safety.”