Home > Clean Your Water Tanks, Potable Water Tank Cleaning, Tank & Tower Cleaning > Now we can add a brain-eating amoeba to the list of contaminants that can be in tank sediment

Now we can add a brain-eating amoeba to the list of contaminants that can be in tank sediment

By Ron Perrin

Removing sediment from the floor of your water tanks and towers may also be removing the habitat that allows bacteria, protozoa and viruses from getting a foothold in your distribution system. Now we can add a brain-eating amoeba to the list of contaminants that the sediment on the floor of your water storage tank can support.

Sediment being Removed from water storage tank

Sediment being Removed from water storage tank

September 16, 2013, NBC News reported: “Deadly brain amoeba infects US tap water for the first time”. The death of a 4-year-old boy near Violet, LA., was linked to the Naegleria fowleri amoeba. The child had been playing on a backyard slip-n-slide that used water from the St. Bernard Parish water system, that was later found to be contaminated with the amoeba. “Tests show it’s present throughout the water supply system in St. Bernard Parish, directly southeast of New Orleans.”

According to the CDC: “Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” or “brain-eating ameba”), is a free-living microscopic ameba, (single-celled living organism). It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The ameba is commonly found in warm freshwater (e.g. lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil. Naegleria fowleri usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the ameba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal. Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. In very rare instances,Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose. You cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria.”

The CDC also tested nearby DeSoto Parish Waterworks Dist. #1 because it was the near the site of an infection that happened in 2011 from non-potable water (lake or river, etc.). On October 8, 2013, The CDC confirmed the presence of the rare amoeba in five locations in DeSoto Parish Waterworks Dist. #1.

Heat is also a factor, an increase in only ten degrees can double the speed of bacteria growth. As record high temperatures become more common in summer months we see that keeping water distribution tanks free of sediment build up may be more important than ever before. Removing the sediment from your water tank may prevent a disaster before it can ever start.

The new Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) will be fully implemented in 2016. It requires assessment and corrective action when there are indications of coliform contamination. The RTCR no longer includes a monthly maximum contaminant level violation for multiple total coliform detections. Instead, systems that have indicators of coliform contamination in the distribution system must assess the problem and take corrective action.  Well documented tank inspections should be part of assessing your problem.  If there is sediment build up in the tank, cleaning would be a logical corrective action to take.

The fact is, keeping your tanks clean may also prevent you from getting an RTCR violation in the first place. What we have found is this: Once the sediment is removed, our utility customers discover that chlorine costs are reduced because the chlorine is no longer losing the war with the microbes that were growing in the sediment.

However you choose to do it, just get it done. Do not let it go year after year, out of sight and out of mind.   Knowing what is in your facilities with a good inspection is your first line of defense.  If an accumulation of sediment is found, don’t think of it as “just a little dirt.” Know that it is a broken barrier that can allow contaminants to compromise the entire water supply and the health of the community

About the Author:
CSHO LOGORon Perrin is a Certified Safety and Health Official (CSHO), a member of the Texas Water Utilities Association, AWWA,

Ron Perrin Owner of Ron Perrin Water Technologies

Ron Perrin Owner of Ron Perrin Water Technologies

and the owner of Ron Perrin Water Technologies in Fort Worth, Texas. Since 1997 his company has inspected over seven thousand water storage tanks and towers in 14 states. Ron may be contacted through his web site at http://www.ronperrin.com.
Or contact RPWT Office Manager Debi Wheelan:
tankinspections@aol.com

Call: 817-377-4899

Fax 817-246-1740

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