LEONARDTOWN, Md. — A letter was recently distributed regarding a water test that took place at Leonardtown Middle School and the James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center.
The letter was sent by the LMS Principal, Dr. Deborah Dennie, and stated the following:
Dear LMS Families,
On Thursday, October 20, 2022, the SMCPS Department of Maintenance was notified that a water sample collected on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, from Leonardtown Middle School (LMS) and the James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center (JAFCTC) was found to be positive for Total Coliform and negative for E-Coli. The presence of Total Coliform mandates that certain precautions be taken to ensure the safety of the individuals who use the affected water supply. In accordance with Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) protocol, on Friday, October 21, 2022, water samples were collected. Notification was received on Saturday, October 22, 2022, indicating that several of the checked samples also showed positive for Total Coliform. On Monday, October 24, 2022, SMCPS Department of Maintenance delivered bottled water and hand sanitizer to both sites and signage was posted to alert staff and students. Remediation includes chlorination of the entire water supply system at both sites. As chlorine is an irritant, alternative water supplies have been provided for drinking and handwashing. We are coordinating with the St. Mary’s County Department of Emergency Services and local contractors to secure available portable handwashing stations to maintain school operations pending corrective actions and approval of the water source at the school.
Retesting at both sites will be performed after purging of the chlorine from the entire system. Once purging is complete, arrangements will be made with the contracted water testing company to resample both locations.
Per the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) guidelines, bottled water and hand sanitizer have been provided and will be maintained until corrective measures have been implemented and verification that the source of contamination has been eliminated.
As a result of the testing, the Department of Food Services will be providing cold breakfast and lunch until water samples have been cleared of all contaminants. A hand washing station is available for kitchen staff to wash their hands. All breakfast and lunch items will be served on disposal trays or in brown bags. The kitchen surfaces will be sanitized.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we carefully navigate, manage, and address the impact of this situation.
Dr. Deborah A. Dennie
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), total coliforms are “a group of related bacteria that are (with few exceptions) not harmful to humans. A variety of bacteria, parasites, and viruses, known as pathogens, can potentially cause health problems if humans ingest them.”
The EPA considers total coliforms a useful indicator of other pathogens for drinking water. Total coliforms are typically used to determine the adequacy of water treatment and the integrity of the distribution system.
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