Nov 18, 2009 5:31 PM by Bea Karnes

Alamosa water contamination blamed on animal waste

A salmonella outbreak in Alamosa last year that killed one person and sickened an estimated 1,300 was the result of animal waste contaminating a concrete in-ground water storage tank that had several holes and cracks. That's according to a final report issued Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Alamosa was granted a waiver from state requirements to disinfect its drinking water in 1974, so water being served to the public in Alamosa at the time of the outbreak was not chlorinated.

Alamosa commissioned an inspection of the tank in July 1997 by a professional tank inspection company, which reported the cracking and other problems. It appears that the city never repaired the damage.

Since the Alamosa outbreak, the state began reviewing all water systems with chlorination waivers. Already, 72 waivers have been revoked. "This incident further underscores the long-accepted public health benefits associated with disinfecting drinking water," said Ron Falco, Safe Drinking Water program manager in the Water Quality Control Division. "Chlorine is a highly effective means of destroying bacteria such as Salmonella."

Click here to review the complete report



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