A back-up well that could be used to provide water at Parkview Hospital Randallia in an emergency failed a key water-quality test last year.
Hospital officials point out that the well, sunk about 15 years ago, has been used only a few times since then. Spokesman John Perlich said the most recent time its water used in the hospital was five to six years ago.
As part of a water supply that potentially serves the public, the back-up well is subject to tests for coliform bacteria every three months. In March 2011, the well water failed the test for these bacteria. “No one consumed any of the water that showed coliform in March 2011,” Perlich emphasized.
How big was the margin of failure? Perlich said the hospital could not provide the actual test results from that sampling. Publicly available test reports do not include the quantity of bacteria found in the sample.
Perlich said subsequent retesting was completed, and those tests passed.
There are several reasons a water sample could fail the test for bacteria. Perlich said hospital officials think the most likely explanation is that the water was not run long enough before the test sample was taken, so stagnant water may have been submitted for testing.
Other possible causes of contamination he suggested include:
•Use of a non-sterile container for the test same
•Cross-contamination from another source during sampling
•Lab error resulting in false positive
The hospital also had a violation in the fourth quarter of 2011 because it failed to submit a sample for the coliform test.
Before that, the most recent lapse in water-quality testing as in 2009, when the hospital failed to submit a water sample for nitrate testing, which is required once a year.
Under normal circumstances, the hospital uses water supplied by Fort Wayne City Utilities. The well serves purely as a back-up in the event the supply of Fort Wayne city water is interrupted.
“We are working to ensure our reports are completed and submitted on time. We are confident our backup water supply is safe for consumption in the event it would need to be used,” Perlich said.