Last updated 7:23PM ET
December 11, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Alamosa Salmonella Outbreak Grows, Couldn't Happen in Durango
(2008-03-25)
Governor Bill Ritter, with his back to the camera, visits a water distribution center in Alamosa this past weekend. (Courtesy: Governor's Office)
(ksut) - More cases of suspected salmonella have been reported in the southern Colorado city of Alamosa.
State health department spokesman Mark Salley says the number of cases was 216 on Sunday.
He says nine people have required hospital treatment and one remains in the hospital.
Health officials Monday said lab results confirmed the outbreak was caused by Alamosa's municipal water system.
Residents have been told to stop drinking and cooking with tap water.
Public officials plan to begin flushing the city water system with a chlorine solution Today.
The process could take several days.
The state activated the Colorado National Guard on Friday to help distribute safe water.
HOST LEAD: The salmonella outbreak in Alamosa shows that being on a municipal water system doesn't mean your water may necessarily be safe.
So, you might ask, is it possible a similar outbreak could occur in Durango?
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: If you are served by a municipal water system, you expect, when you turn on your tap, to receive clean, safe water.
Unfortunately that hasn't been the case for more than 200 people sickened by apparent salmonella tainted water from the Alamosa water system.
LUDWIG: WE WILL GUARANTEE THE QUALITY OF THAT WATER TO YOUR MOUTH, EVERY DAY, EVERY MOMENT YOU DRINK IT.
Robert Ludwig is superintendent of Durango's Water Treatment Plant.
He says you won't see a repeat of Alamosa here.
Durango's plant treats 2 to 6 million gallons of water per day, it has a capacity to treat 14 million gallons.
Ludwig says the good thing is they start with good water, from Lemon Reservoir and the Florida River.
LUDWIG: IT'S WILDERNESS WATER, IT'S COMPLETELY UNTAINTED AS FAR AS WHAT THE STREAMS FLOW FROM THE HILLS.
Throughout the treatment process, water quality is constantly monitored for such things as turbidity and particle content.
Weekly, 7 samples are drawn for bacterial testing.
For Ludwig, who was Bayfield's public works director before coming to Durango four years ago, the plant is like his baby.
He gleams as he tells you about how it's being upgraded, including computer controlled operation.
And, he says, an Alamosa type Salmonella problem can't occur here because Durango, like many municipal water systems, maintains chlorine in the finished product it sends to your home.
LUDWIG: FROM WHAT I'VE READ IS THAT ALAMOSA DOES NOT HAVE A DISINFECTANT RESIDUAL IN THEIR DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM WHERE WE CARRY A VERY LOW BUT WE DO CARRY A TRACE RESIDUAL FOR DISINFECTANT, CHLORINE, THROUGH OUT WHOLE SYSTEM. IF SALMONELLA WAS INTRODUCED TO THE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM THIS CHLORINE WOULD BREAK DOWN THAT ORGANIC AND NOT ALLOW IT TO BECOME A BACTERIAL REGROWTH IN A HUMAN PERSON.
Ludwig doesn't hesitate to put a guarantee on the water Durango delivers.
LUDWIG: I BELIEVE WE MAKE A TOP NOTCH PRODUCT UP HERE, IT'S VERY HIGH CLARITY WATER, IT'S AT THE TOP OF THE WATER FOOD CHAIN YOU MAY SAY, WE'RE AT THE TOP OF THE HILL. IF ANYONE DOES HAVE A QUESTION I ENCOURAGE THEM TO CONTACT ME SO WE CAN COME OUT AND REALLY TAKE A LOOK AT THEIR WATER BECAUSE THERE ARE THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN INSIDE PEOPLES INTERNAL PLUMBING THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE RIGHT. From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.

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