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Water tainted at campus farms

By Tate Williams
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
August 27, 1999

The drinking water supply for the Campus Agricultural Center is being treated for coliform bacteria- the third incident of UA contamination since late July.

Last week, the water lines of the University of Arizona farms located along North Campbell Avenue, north of the university, tested positive for bacteria found in animal intestines. The bacteria could cause illness if consumed by humans.

Steve Holland, director of UA risk management, said the supply is currently being treated with slight levels of chlorine to kill the contaminant until samples test clean.

About 380 cattle live off of the water, and five on-site staff houses also rely on the supply, Holland said. Bottled water will be supplied for human consumption, and the cattle - if they accept it - will continue to drink the chlorinated ground supply.

"I don't think it's too much of a hardship," Holland said, adding that there is a "greater concern for human consumption."

E. coli, one deadly strain of coliform bacteria, did not show up in the tests.

In late July, coliform bacteria showed up in the water supply of both McKale Center, 1721 E. Enke Dr., and the Forbes building, 1140 E. South Campus Dr., causing UA Facilities Management to shut down the pipes. The water tested clean two weeks later.

Al Tarcola, Facilities Management director, said that while the contamination incidents were unrelated, the frequency is "rather peculiar and rather disturbing."

He added that he had not seen this type of bacteria in UA water "in a long, long time."

Holland agreed that the instances were unrelated, but said conditions such as heavy rainfall and high temperatures could have contributed to the contamination.

During the cleaning of Forbes and McKale, Bill Witschi, UA water systems manager, said UA's ground drinking supply has not been regularly treated for bacteria since 1994. Tucson's water supply is treated with chlorine.

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