Thursday, Monroe school officials in Fresno County sent students home with a letter, telling parents their children can’t drink the tap water at school due to E. coli contamination in the supply well.
E. coli is a bacterium that lives in the intestines of people and animals, and can cause illness such as diarrhea.
“I was kind of worried at first, but it’s good to know now that the water is not as bad as I thought it was I guess,” said Stephanie Caudillo, Monroe Elementary parent.
Officials believe the water would be safe to drink, because it’s being disinfected before students or staff, use it or consume it.
“The contamination itself is limited to the supply well and the supply well alone,” said Derek Dill, Water Dynamics Operations Manager.
Dill is with Water Dynamics, the contractor that operates and maintains the school’s water system. In August, he said a very small amount of E. coli was detected in both the well and distribution system, but was resolved within hours through chlorination.
Dill said their data from September through January shows the school’s distribution system hasn’t tested positive for any bacteriological organisms since.
“And we routinely sample from the distribution system there, and those tests are all negative. So we can confirm at this point that the water is safe.”
But Dill said they’re still seeing low levels of E. coli and coliform in samples from the supply well. So this weekend, they will shut the well down, chlorinate it, and then conduct a well-cycle test to see if the problem has been resolved, or if not, where the source of the problem may be.
Until then, they will continue to pull samples on the distribution side, to make sure the water stays safe. So the students of Monroe Elementary School are, too.
Monroe’s principal said jugs and bottles of water are available for students during this time. She said the safety of their students is their first priority, and that right now, their students are absolutely safe.