Boil water notice lifted for the Biloxi peninsula

The Mississippi State Department of Health has lifted the boil water notice that it put into effect for areas south of the bay.

At 4:30 p.m. today, the State Department of Health notified the City of Biloxi that the water testing has shown the drinking water is safe and Biloxi customers south of the bay, from Point Cadet to Debuys Road, may now resume the usual use of their water without the need to boil it.

The State Department of Health issued a boil water notice on Dec. 9 after E. coli was found in one raw sample at the Bradford Street water well. The well was immediately taken offline and flushed. Two follow-up tests were conducted that showed no presence of E. coli at the well.

The State Department of Health’s procedure is for mandatory follow-up testing to be conducted. Through the mandatory tests, a random sample showed the presence of coliform, an environmental bacterium that normally does not require the issuing of a boil water notice.

The City of Biloxi has worked with the State Department of Health in making sure the appropriate steps were taken to ensure public health. Those efforts include notifying the public of the issue and working to resolve it as quickly and responsibly as possible.

Here is the background on the recent south-of-the-bay boil water notice issued by MSDH.

What happened?
During recent random testing, coliform was found in the water lines. The presence of the bacteria prompted the testing of all 13 water wells in the city where raw water samples were taken. One raw water sample at the Bradford Street water well, 2400001, showed the presence of E. coli. Two follow-up tests were conducted that showed no presence of E. coli. The Bradford Street water well was taken offline, flushed, and put back online.

What is a raw water sample and why was one taken?
A raw water sample is one taken directly from the well before chlorine is distributed in the water lines. Chlorine is added to the water lines to prevent contamination and kill or inactive harmful microorganisms which may cause illness, making the water safe to drink. Once bacteria show up in random testing of the water lines, MSDH requires the testing of water wells to investigate the source of the bacteria.

Why did the boil water alert last for six days?
Boil water notices are lifted after two consecutive clear testing samples are received by the MSDH. Testing sampling consists of at least 30 random samples taken on two consecutive days. Testing was done on Friday and Saturday and each day, one of the 30 samples showed the presence of coliform. Follow-up tests were done on Monday and Tuesday which showed no presence of coliform. E.coli was never found in the state-mandated testing and was only found in the initial raw well water sample.

Why was the entire peninsula put on a boil water notice by MSDH?
Water lines south of the bay, from Point Cadet to Debuys Road, are on a loop system, meaning that the water lines all connect at some point. As a precaution, all customers in the loop system were placed on a boil water notice.

How did the city notify the public?
The city issued information through its website, bmail- the city’s e-news service, and text alerts through B-Alert, an on-the-go messaging system available by texting BILOXI to 99411.

Why were door hangers not put out?
Door hangers are issued for boil water notices put into effect by the City of Biloxi. MSDH issued the boil water notice.

Was this unprecedented?
The last citywide or even peninsula-wide boil water notice was after Hurricane Katrina which lasted for more than a month.

How do I learn more about the safety and reliability of the city’s water system?
Last year, MSDH awarded the public works department a 5 out of 5 rating for its management of the city water system, which today serves 15,000 customers, the vast majority of whom are on the peninsula.

Each year, in accordance with and actually exceeding State Department of Health requirements, the City of Biloxi distributes its detailed annual water quality report to every resident and business owner in the city, each July in the city newsletter, and annual water quality reports dating back to 2004 are easily accessed on the city website.
See the annual water quality reports
See the MSDH boil water lift notice