Health Dept Probe Finds No Water Safety Problems
“The Department has not identified any items that will result in formal enforcement actions.”
– from the report’s conclusions
April 28, 2014
(West Palm Beach, FL) – An inquiry into the City of West Palm Beach’s drinking water system by the Department of Health has found no issues affecting the safety or quality of the city’s water.
The probe looked into claims that water department employees may not have followed procedures when taking water samples back in January and February, and that some of those samples may not have been handled properly.
There were never any claims that the quality or safety of the water itself was ever in question. The Department of Health was asked by the city itself to look into the issues after they were brought to the city’s attention.
According to the report, “the Department found no evidence that the City has engaged in a practice of intentionally destroying compliance samples.”
“First and foremost, this report shows the quality of our drinking water remains high,” said West Palm Beach Assistant City Administrator Scott Kelly. “Nothing was found that should cause any concern on the part of our residents. If anything, this report shows that we may need to tighten up some of our employee training to make sure everyone knows how to take a water sample the right way.”
The report concluded “the Department did not uncover any evidence of any intentional alteration of an official Chain-of-Custody record, any official Chain-of-Custody record being altered in a manner that would cover the destruction of any field samples, any knowledge of such actions or any written documentation of such practices.”
The report did find process issues with about a dozen water samples over the two months of January and February, but nothing related to water quality. One, for example was in a bottle that cracked enroute back to the water plant. But because the samples were just a few of the almost 200 taken over the two months, the report concluded that the “system was and remains in compliance.”
Regarding the procedures followed when taking the samples, “the Department did not identify any documentation that the procedure was not followed or that samples were read outside the [testing equipment] manufacturer’s instruction manual.”
The report further concludes that the Department “did not identify any documents indicating compliance samples were collected outside the procedure or any documents directing staff to do so.”
The report was the result of a request by the City of West Palm Beach on February 13, 2014 to look into the issues.