By Ann McCreary

Public works officials in Twisp and Winthrop breathed a sigh of relief last week when water samples for both towns came back clean.

“We’re golden,” Howard Moss, Twisp public works superintendent, said Monday (Oct. 14). “All five samples came back clean. We’re out of the woods.”

Winthrop also got good news last week when five water samples also showed no evidence of total coliform, said Rick Karro, superintendent of public works.

Both towns added chlorine to municipal reservoirs about two weeks ago after numerous water samples taken in September showed presence of total coliform, a collection of bacteria that are common in the environment.

Though not harmful, total coliform is seen as an indicator that more harmful bacteria could be present in the water. None of those harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, were found in town water samples.

Both Twisp and Winthrop notified water customers of the water issues and plans to add chlorine to disinfect town water supplies, and warned that the taste of the water might be temporarily affected.

The state Department of Health requires monthly water samples from towns and if total coliform is found, additional water samples are required.

“It’s a safety factor,” Karro said. “But it’s nice not to have to keep spending money on the extra samples.”

The source of the coliform isn’t known, but Moss and Karro said possible factors could be a spell of hot weather in late summer, or a water break in Winthrop that could have stirred up sediment in water pipes.