AMES–Water sources in Meeker Elementary School that are isolated from the classroom wings have tested positive for the presence of total coliform bacteria. Two sinks in the administration area tested positive for total coliform last week during a routine water quality sampling, prompting the school to distribute bottled water to students and staff as a precaution. Additional testing throughout Meeker School revealed that two staff restrooms were positive for total coliform bacteria.

Total coliform bacteria are common in the environment and are generally harmless. If only total coliform bacteria are present, the source is likely environmental and not due to fecal contamination.

John Dunn, the City of Ames’ Water and Pollution Control Director,  said additional water samples were collected from homes on either side of the school and from the city’s water plant’s wells, which all tested negative for the bacteria.

“We are confident in the safety of our water source, our water mains, the water being provided to the neighborhood, and the water provided to the community,” he said.

Gerry Peters, Director of Facilities Planning and Management for the Ames Community School District, said further testing revealed that all other water sources in the school are negative for total coliform. The water in the fountains and coolers in classroom wings is safe to drink and access has been restored, and the water sources in the affected areas will remain taped off until tests reveal the issue is resolved, he said.

Peters said with the city’s help on Saturday, his staff added a high concentration of chlorine to the contaminated piping. On Sunday, they flushed the lines and took more samples.

“With the city’s help, we will continue our efforts until testing shows the pipe is clean,” Peters said.