Owners of two up-Island restaurants said they were complying with state regulations following a bad water test that led to their closure late last week.
The state department of environmental protection ordered the drinking water shut off at the Chilmark Tavern and State Road Restaurant after total coliform bacteria and E. coli bacteria were found in routine water samples from the restaurants. A sample taken from each restaurant on Sept. 30 tested positive for bacteria, which activated a protocol to retest the water the next day, which also came back positive. A third sample taken on Oct. 2 tested negative for bacteria.
The groundwater samples were done by a private certified water tester, which are taken weekly. The samples were sent to a laboratory in Barnstable. Gongmin Lei, laboratory director for the Barnstable County Water Quality Laboratory, confirmed that the first two samples tested positive for the bacteria but a third test came back negative for both bacteria.
The restaurants closed on Oct. 3 and a chlorine flushing occurred on Saturday. Two days of clean tests are required in order for the water to be turned back on. New tests are expected back Tuesday afternoon.
In a joint statement, owners of both restaurants said they believed that the bad test was an error. The full statement from Jackson and Mary Kenworth of State Road and Jenna Petersiel of the Chilmark Tavern appears below:
“We are in the middle of — but close to the end of — what is almost certainly a mistake regarding the quality of the water at our restaurants.
"Unfortunately, two samples taken last week from outside spigots at our two restaurants came back invalid or failing. When that happens, restaurants are immediately — and properly — closed down by the state. However, when a third test was done of four inside faucets at both restaurants, all the results were clear.
"Nonetheless, the first two tests triggered the state closing and required us to chlorinate our wells and flush our systems. We must now wait for the results of tests following the mandated treatment before the state will allow us to reopen. We should know the results by Tuesday afternoon.
We have been told by several water professionals that it is most likely human error somewhere in the testing process that resulted in the failed tests.”