OCEAN CITY — The town of Ocean City is still waiting on the results of the latest batch of water samples taken last week after a fire hydrant in the north end of town tested positive for the presence of legionella, but officials do not believe there is concern at this point with the water and have not issued any restrictions.
On Sept. 25, a water sample taken from a hydrant on 145th Street tested positive for legionella, a bacteria associated with and named for Legionnaire’s Disease. The discovery came on the heels of a positive test for legionella at a nearby hotel earlier in September after two reported cases of Legionnaire’s disease were linked to the lodging establishment.
Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters said on Tuesday the positive test for legionella at the hydrant has set in motion a larger effort to identify and contain the source and the extent of the possible exposure. The Worcester County Health Department and the Maryland Department of the Environment are working closely with the town and more samples were taken late last week.
“We are working with the health department and the MDE to resolve the issue in the best possible manner,” she said. “Upon receiving the news on Sept. 25 that the results of a water sample taken from a city hydrant on 145th Street were positive for legionella bacteria, our water department immediately began taking steps, including taking additional samples as a precaution to ensure that no further actions are necessary.”
Waters explained normal water department operations involve the addition of chlorine at the treatment plant for disinfection purposes and for monitoring the distribution system for the level of chlorine residual that is present in treated water. The department maintains a chlorine residual in the distribution system to safeguard the town’s water from excessive microbial growth. In response to the concerns presented by the positive legionella test, the water department has increased the amount of chlorine in the system to further safeguard against any microbial growth.
Waters said additional samples were taken last week and are being analyzed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The results of those tests are expected to be released late this week or early next week.
“The town will continue to monitor the situation and work closely and cooperatively with the health department and MDE,” she said. “If at any time we believe that the public’s safety is at risk, then we will immediately make notifications to the community, but at this point in time, it’s important for citizens to know that no restrictions have been put in place and citizens should not be concerned about the quality of the water in Ocean City.”
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