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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 their water is cleared for drinking at the elementary school again after the Department of Health issued a boil water advisory this week.

“Tomorrow we’ll know more. Right now it’s where did it come from,” Fred H. McLaughlin, the district’s director of transportation, buildings and grounds said Wednesday.

A letter from elementary Principal Johnathan R. Hirschey had gone out to parents this week, advising them of the boil water advisory at the school after their water was deemed non-potable.

Mr. Hirschey said they had been informed by the state Department of Health that a water sample at the elementary school tested positive for total coliform bacteria. However, Mr. McLaughlin said, there was no e coli in the water samples taken from the well.

“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, although it can still be used for washing hands.

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

He said that, until they get the test results back, they’re not sure what caused the problem. He said they do routine bacteria and e coli tests each month.

“We’re not 100 percent sure. 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.

One of the possible contamination sources being investigated is water softeners that were put on-line 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. We took the test November fifth, 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. If you’ve got an issue, they should,” he said.

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

“They came out here Tuesday and told us what to do,” including closing off the water fountains and providing potable water for students and faculty, Mr. McLaughlin said.

He said cooking is done at the high school, so it did not impact meals at the elementary school.

On Wednesday they “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. If it was the water softener and something that was contaminated, chlorine will kill that. If there’s something is in the well, chlorine will take care of that,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

If it turns out to be an issue with the well, he said they may have to add a chlorination system to their water, something they don’t currently have.

“Until they get the results, they haven’t told us that,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

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