Updated results expected Saturday after E. coli found in Oxford water samples

Published 4:12 pm Friday, December 8, 2023

Boil water advisory still in effect

Rob Neely, general manager of Oxford Utilities, has released a statement regarding the boil-water advisory affecting Oxford’s citizens and local businesses, citing the presence of E. coli in a routine water sample may be due to potential human error.

The boil-water alert affected many food related businesses including grocery store produce departments, bakeries and several fast food establishments.

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According to Neely, water treatment operators conducted standard water tests on Monday and Tuesday, which were sent to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). The utility was notified Wednesday of the positive E. coli sample, triggering a mandatory boil-water alert. Neely explained that chlorine residual levels at the time of sampling should have negated the possibility of E. coli, suggesting contamination may have occurred through human error, a rare event in Oxford’s history.

City COO Bart Robinson, who has more than 26 years of experience overseeing the water department, reports this as unprecedented. In response, Oxford Utilities collected 125 water samples for expedited testing by the MSDH lab in Jackson. Results expected by Saturday afternoon will determine if the boil-water alert can be lifted or if further testing is necessary.

This situation has prompted a citywide response, affecting not just residents but also the commercial sector, impacting local businesses’ operations and services.

Pam Swain, president/CEO of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce, recommended residents monitor social media for updates from local businesses on any service changes. She stated that Ajax, a local dining staple, and Volta Taverna, known for its Greek cuisine, have already taken to social media to inform patrons of their operational status.

The Oxford Eagle remains committed to providing timely updates on the advisory status and its effects on the community.