Water Operator Billy Baker said he discovered the contamination during routine monthly testing, as required by law.
“One of them came back positive for fecal coliform, which is an indicator that you possibly have a problem with that particlar business or residence you checked. So that came back as a positive, so we had to do some sampling on each side of the particular service. We did that,” he said.
When a contamination is detected, water regulations call for all water sources to be tested. After Baker tested the Dawson Street well, he found it was the contamination’s source. The well was shut down Jan. 17, around noon, Baker said, and the city began using the clean Railroad Street well.
“We’re operating on our old well on Railroad Street,” Baker said. “We are just flushing this Dawson Street well in order to clear it up and get it back on line, and it’s going to take a good few days, probably. Once we get it where we feel like it’s good and it looks good, we’ve got to have five tests in a row that are good.”
The Environmental Protection Division requires a well to pass five consecutive tests to prove it is no longer contaminated. If the well fails one of the tests, it must be flushed again and the entire process starts over.
Baker could not provide a specific reason for how the well became contaminated. He believed surface water intrusion — where tainted surface water enters the well — could have occurred due to the large amount of rain experienced over the past week. However, it could also be caused by cracks in the rock underground. Even without knowing the cause, Kingston will continue to flush out the well.
“You crank it up and we close the valves and flush it out on the ground,” Baker said. “We have an emergency connection to the Bartow County water system if we have to use it. We’ve used it before when we [did] some repairs when we had one well.”
The Railroad Street well is meeting current demand, Baker added.
Even though the water coming from the Railroad Street well is clean, the boil order for Kingston water customers remains in effect, as EPD has not rescinded it. Baker said he was working as hard as possible to clear out the Dawson Street well, test it and ensure it is clean. Even still, he said the boil order may not be rescinded until Tuesday, Jan. 22, due to the national holiday.
“We’re going to work as hard as we can to get this system straightened out so we can get this boil water order released,” Baker said.
The boil order calls for all Kingston water customers to use either a safe water supply or boil all water prior to drinking, cooking or preparing baby food. The water should be boiled for at least one minute after reaching a rolling, vigorous boil.
Kingston Elementary School is not affected by the boil order, as it is on the Bartow County water system.
For more information, contact Kingston City Hall at 770-336-5905.