Letter to the editor: How safe is the city water?


On March 13, 2023 as a property owner I guess, I received a letter from the City of Missouri Valley dated February 6, 2023 telling me of an incident that happened with the drinking water back in November 2022. The incident was a positive sample containing coliform bacteria, a broad term for what is otherwise known as a fecal contaminant.

My first question after reading this letter was what bacteria was cultured out? Was it E. Coli, Klebsiella, Serratia,Enterobacter, or any of the other 15 types of bacteria that fall in this category?

Next, what was done about this to correct the situation? The information that was stated in the letter about what was done, in my opinion was quite non-specific.

Finally, I wondered why it took so long for the public to be notified? I saw nothing in the local paper addressing this issue informing the public. Did all people in the community get notified?

With these questions in mind, I decided to see what was noted in the posted City Council minutes for Missouri Valley. I read all the City Council minutes starting with November 1, 2022 through March 7, 2023.

First of all, I learned in the December 20, 2022 minutes we JUST NOW have 2 fully trained operators overseeing the water treatment plant. Interesting, why have we not ALWAYS had fully trained operators attending the city’s water treatment plant? To me, that is what we contract for with Peoples Service.

Secondly I did not find any mention of the Missouri Valley water system violation of coliform bacteria in November 2022 until the February 21, 2023 minutes which was 15 days after the public notification letter of February 6, 2023 was written.

Also, I learned in these same minutes a study was to be performed to solve continuous issues with the water treatment plant. So, what are these issues? I then turned to read the Iowa Administrative Code, I believe it states the public should be notified within 90 days of a water violation. So, I was notified approximately 120 days after the incident by a letter that was dated a month earlier than when I received it. This certainly raises many more questions in my mind such as what is going on and is the City of Missouri Valley water safe for consumption?

-Cathy Blackley