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Health Department cites dozens of water providers

NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI — The state health department found roughly one in seven Northeast Mississippi water providers in violation of regulations last year, for everything from contamination to monitoring failures.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports 26 of the 182 providers were cited — 19 of them once, and seven two, three or four times each. Some provide water in more than one area; there are 215 water systems.

The Lafayette Springs Water Association, North Lee County Water Association and the town of Pittsboro each had four violations, according to the agency’s annual Public Water System Compliance Report, which was released in April.

North Lee, which is under state and federal investigation for a series of alleged wrongdoings, was cited each time for bacterial contamination.

Lafayette Springs, a nonprofit corporation in Oxford, got two violations for failing to test the water for bacteria and two because it didn’t test for chlorine.

Pittsboro, in Calhoun County, had one for failure to file its annual Consumer Confidence Report, one because it didn’t monitor disinfectant levels in the water, and two for having bacteria in the water.

Bacteria and chemical infractions “are more serious because they have public health effects that could be related to them,” said Melissa Parker, deputy director of the Mississippi Department of Health Bureau of Public Water Supply.

“If you have multiple failures to monitor,” Parker added, “that shows the system isn’t taking the steps they need to take to make sure public health is protected. It’s not necessarily a public health threat, but because that monitoring hasn’t been done, we don’t know.”

All public water systems, whether operated by a private nonprofit entity like North Lee or a public one like the municipality of Pittsboro, must regularly monitor for bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants that could affect consumer health and water quality.

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