Pickett County Press …

Posted April 29, 2020 at 1:46 pm

The Byrdstown Water Department was the first in the State of Tennessee to implement automated bacteriological testing. It was featured and recently recognized at the Tennessee Association of Utility District’s Utility Technology Conference and the Tennessee Utility News.

The TECTA is a rapid automated microbial detection system, BAC-T for coliform detection (indicates E. Coli) has become the industry standard for determining drinking water’s sanitary quality due to regulatory actions put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Tennessee public water systems must produce safe water to their customers, and the Byrdstown Water Department is leading the way in making the process more effective.

In late 2019, the Town of Byrdstown Council approved a purchase of the system at $13,004 to help produce a more accurate reading of the results. Before the TECTA system, water from distribution locations would be put in a bottle, with a hand-measured solution before incubating for 24 hours. The visual changes in water colors were how the results were read.

It is required by the state to create eight samples in various distribution areas in the county per month. The TECTA cuts the time down to 18 hours or less, and if a sample is indicating positive, the results are automatically sent by text and email within two hours. If that occurs, the area of testing would need to be immediately flushed and retested. If a water line breaks, you will see a boil water order which is to protect anyone from drinking potentially contaminated water which includes E. Coli.

“This new method not only cuts the time down but also removes human error of an interpreted reading,” said Byrdstown Water Plant Supervisor Buster Harmon.

Once the water department began utilizing the TECTA, they were directed to do a comparison study with the old method versus new for three and a half months. This was to make sure that the results were within 10 percent of each other. The testing was at 100 percent. The cost per sample from the old method to new is about the same.

The Town of Byrdstown Water Department’s lab is certified by the Tennessee Environmental Conservation Division of Water Supply.