Bacteria Turns up in Hightstown Drinking Water Samples

All subsequent tests were negative, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Hightstown residents will receive a hand-delivered notification this week after bacteria was found in the drinking water last month, officials said.

Two out of six routine water samples turned up trace amounts of coliform bacteria in July, and subsequent tests on Aug. 1 were negative, according to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine.

If there is more than one positive sample in a month, it is standard to notify residents and conduct additional testing, Considine said.

The Borough received test results Aug. 2 after an independent testing company collected the samples and gave the results to the NJDEP, Hightstown Business Administrator Michael Theokas said. Under NJDEP regulations, the Borough has 30 days to notify residents. He said in addition to hand-delivering notifications this week to expedite the process, an announcement was also posted on the Borough website. 

Theokas emphasized the drinking water is safe and this is not an emergency situation. As a precaution the supply well was disinfected using chlorine.

Considine said coliform bacteria could mean other types of bacteria are in the water, but none turned up in additional testing. 

“Determining what could have caused such a reading in a short-term situation would be very difficult, if not impossible,” Considine said in an email.

Coliform bacteria is a “microscopic organisms that typically originate in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, although they are also present in vegetation and soil, and can make their way to water sources via runoff,” Considine said.

For health-related questions, contact Health Officer Jill Swanson at jswanson@westwindsortwp.com or at 609-936-8400.


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B.Bennett August 14, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Why does it take over a month to notify the residents? They took out flouride and didn't tell us. What else goes on in this town that is a secret? Google coliform bacteria. We are going to get a hand delivered notification after a month? This town used to be a really nice town however....
Jake August 14, 2012 at 11:18 AM
They cant stop the crime, they cant control the water. What do we get for our exhorbitant taxes.
Leslie Bianczik August 14, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Dear Resident: Remember the water you drank last month? There was a turd in it. No need for alarm; you've probably already gotten sick and are over it. The water supply is now ok to drink (and may or may not contain flouride). Have a nice day. Sincerely, Hightstown Water Dept.
B.Bennett August 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM
There were two samples in July that were contaminated. It reads if there is more than one positive sample, it is standard to notify residents. (Think the first positive sample was July 11)? This is August 14, 2012 and we haven't heard anything? Leslie, good comment.
E August 14, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Nothing surprises me anymore about the lack of respect Borough leaders have towards the residents of our Borough. They all talk about the need for transparency in government; however, they continue to hide behind the cloak of secrecy time and time again. Why does it take over one month to notify the residents of Hightstown about this issue? Measures should have been taken immediately to inform us regardless of whether or not this was an emergency situation!!! This is yet another example of why so many of us DISTRUST Borough leaders.
E August 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM
(Continued) ... And for those of you who are wondering what coliform bacteria is, well, Leslie Bianczik is pretty much on target! This bacteria is present in the digestive tracts of animals and humans, and are found in their wastes.
whatever41 August 14, 2012 at 02:34 PM
This is truly disgusting,,,,, bottled water sales will be on the rise again, too bad it has to be in Plastic.
clara August 14, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I actually had heard there was a problem with the water last week and posted here about it on Thursday or Friday, so it even took the Patch several days to do a story on it, hmmm. The Trenton Times ran a story this past Saturday. I called the Borough to ask about rumors I'd heard about the water and never received a call back. I asked to attend a Water and Sewer Committee Meeting and was told that unlike every other official advisory committee or board, they don't hold public meetings. I find this interesting, particularly given the lack of notice around the discontinuation of fluoride and now this coliform bacteria (nice way of saying crap). So, I would say the lack of transparency is not only in the borough's leaders but in the municipal employees.
Jake August 14, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I'm the other Jake. E- fecal colform is the bacteria that originates in mammals' digestive system. This article only mentions the coliform group found in trace amounts at 2 of 6 test points. As indicator organisms their presence raises the possibility that other bacterium MAY be present. The fact that coliform was not present in all samples means that bacteria was most likely limited to the structure where the sample was drawn. A slight increase in the chlorine dose quickly remedies the problem. Thus corrective action is applied and a re test confirms the results. There is no reason to spread an immediate general alarm because, as you can see by the comments here, people panic and rush to conclusions.
Ashley Peskoe (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Comments have been deleted because they violate the Terms of Use. Please refrain from using profanity and personal attacks in the comments.
Hightstown Blues August 14, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I was curious so I checked the DEP's web site and sure enough, it says the water tested positive on July 11, so that's 33 days to let residents know. That may seem bad, but it's something like 15 times faster than the year and a half it took them to let us know about ending fluoridation. Come on people, that is real progress!
Jake August 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Was not hightstown homeowners comment a personal attack. It is still there.
Hightstown Homeowner August 14, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Dana Avis August 14, 2012 at 11:25 PM
My Mother lives in St James Village, & she had a Bad Urinary track infection july 4th week down in Myrtle beach SC I took her to medi clinic, they sent the results 2 weeks ago up here to her & Said she had bad Bacteria in her!! She talked to 2 other ladies that live in her building & they had the same thing!! I told her she should tell the Manager, Something wasn't right with something Now I know what it is!! They better do something I bet it's not over yet!! Dana Avis
Christina Marie August 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Clearly another example of our taxes at work...why does the town put so much emphasis on taxi cab drivers YET neglect to inform us on the real issues at hand?? Wake up Hightstown!
terribly tired of this August 15, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Hmmmmm.....well the best example of neglect that I can think of......townspeople not paying attention, stage set by past mayor, his wife and council. Before you know it, we're on the sanctuary city list, single family homes bought up by the handful to be turned into boardinghouses, taxis, taxis, taxis. There are some things we're just not supposed to know. Don't turn your back for a second.
Torry Watkins August 15, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Dana For what it's worth, I'm quite sure that St James is not on the Hightstown system.
Christina Marie August 16, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Where is the hand delivered notice...didn't get it yet? Heck with the notice, we deserve the report from the DEP...this happened over a month ago! Why did it happen? What was the root cause? What has been done to fix it? What has been done to prevent it from happening again? How many other samples were drawn since last month and tested ? Give us answers not bull. Stop blaming the PREVIOUS mayors. We have people responsible NOW! Previous mayors and councils are history. Who cares....it is now the mayor and council be held accountable for this type of action.
Jasha M. Levi August 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I, too, was surprised to see a letter being hand delivered to my mailbox one month after the finding of bacteria in our water. Are people sleeping on their jobs, deciding what is important and what not for us to know, or don't care? Have they given up, disgusted with the rest of citizenry? The anger I hear from most of the comments reflects the state of mind we are in: mistrust, belief in evildoers, conspiracies even, blaming everyone for how we feel suddenly powerless to have any say in even the smallest, easiest to handle events, such as telling people to boil their water for a few day. For crying out loud, nobody would blame the people responsible for our water to have put feces in it. Or were they afraid that in the current climate, that was possible?


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