Cryptosporidium and Giardia Lamblia
No evidence of Cryptosporidium and Giardia has been found in our water system.
In 1996, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted a new Information Collection Rule (ICR), which provides guidelines for testing Cryptosporidium parvum, a disease-causing parasite, which has made headlines in several U.S. cities over the years. The ICR also requires testing for viruses and Giardia Lamblia, another parasite capable of causing gastrointestinal disease. The testing effort is part of a national initiative that includes about 300 community water systems that use surface water, from lakes or rivers, and provide water to more than 100,000 people.
In Minnesota, only Minneapolis and Saint Paul are part of the testing initiative. However, despite recent improvements, current tests for Cryptosporidium in water still aren’t completely reliable. For example, if the parasite is present in the water only intermittently, a test taken at the wrong time could miss it and give people a false sense of security. Also, if the parasite is found, there is no way to tell if the organisms are viable and capable of causing disease. Moreover, it is not known at what level of contamination the organism is capable of causing illness. Thus, if Cryptosporidium is found, each situation must be assessed individually.
The testing done according to EPA guidelines, is an effort to identify the safest and most effective techniques for removing potential disease-causing contaminants from the water delivered to customers. It will help the EPA determine the optimal mix of filtration technologies and chemical disinfection methods.
Routine chemical disinfection methods like chlorination will not destroy Cryptosporidium, but effective filtration systems can greatly reduce the risk that people will be exposed to the parasite.
Saint Paul Regional Water Services has taken steps to ensure that its treatment and filtration system is operating at maximum effectiveness at all times. The utility is currently using the best available filtration technology as part of the water treatment process. Moreover, the utility has greatly improved the pretreatment process in the raw water reservoirs as well as the treatment process prior to the filtration step.