Coliform bacteria again found in Central Lake water system

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

CENTRAL LAKE – The recent appearance of iron coliform bacteria in Central Lake's municipal water system has forced the DPW to once again add chlorine to the system, DPW Supervisor Robert "Sam" Mullens told the Central Lake Village Council last week.

According to Mullens, regular testing of one of the village's water wells detected the bacteria.

"Right now, it's at 23 parts per million," Mullens said, adding that he was on vacation in Las Vegas when the coliform was detected.

"I called Jennifer from there," he said, referring to Gourdie-Fraser consultant Jennifer Hodges, who in the last three years has worked with the village on a number of water system improvements.

"Iron coliform occurs naturally in water," said Hodges. "It tends to build up over time and eventually create an environment for other bacteria, unless the well is thoroughly cleaned. Chlorine keeps it at bay."

A flushing program was done immediately, Mullens said.

"I can almost guarantee that if we take that chlorine out of the system, we'll go right back to the coliform."

According to the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, iron bacteria is more of an annoyance than a health hazard, but can be damaging to plumbing systems where it grows. Common in groundwater wells, the bacteria oxidizes the iron, producing a brown slime which may produce odors, cause rusty discoloration of the water and clog water systems. It can grow and multiply very quickly, sometimes taking only a few months to clog up a system.

The addition of the chlorine to the village's water system is the second time in the last decade. Chlorine was required for several months to rectify the bacteria problem several years ago.

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