E. coli forces boil-water order for thousands - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

E. coli forces boil-water order for thousands

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The first tests since a boil-water order was issued to about 25,000 customers of the Kent County Water Authority came back negative for E. coli on Monday.

Testing confirmed Sunday that a storage tank was contaminated with the bacteria. The tank was taken out of service and isolated from the rest of the system.

The Health Department said it expects the advisory to be in place for at least four days. The advisory cannot be lifted until authorities have three consecutive days of water test results with acceptable standards.

The Health Department said customers of the Kent County Water Authority and for Potowomut customers of the City of Warwick Water. The Health Department recommends water being used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, cooking, or bathing of infants should be boiled for one minute and allowed to cool before using.

Customers in the Oaklawn section of Cranston and the Brookfield Plat section of West Warwick are not affected.

Divers went inside the tank Monday to try to find the source of the bacteria. The divers used special gear and equipment to prevent themselves from contaminating the water.

Loretta Verte lives right near the water tank in West Warwick. She's stocking up on bottled water, but concerned.

"I have two big pots on the stove. I've boiled water, got bottled water, I guess, like everybody else, have to be careful," she said. "We didn't know anything about it. We've been drinking the water since Friday. I'm very concerned because we did drink the water."

Timothy Brown of the KCWA said Monday that testing of the water system at the customer level, so far, since the E. coli was found in the tank has been clean.

"Even though it may be contained and we may not find any evidence of it any place else, because there's a pipe hooked up to that tank, it's considered contaminated," he said.

Brown said it's the first time in more than 25 years has been an E. coli contamination in the drinking water supply.

The West Warwick School District covered up the water bubblers and brought in supplies of bottled water on Monday.

"In our elementary schools we're not letting students wash their hands with water. We're giving them Purell as a precautionary measure," Kenneth Townsend of the West Warwick School District said.

A spokesman for Kent Hospital told NBC 10 all patients have been given bottled water to drink and to use to brush their teeth. Ice is being supplied by a vendor that is not a Kent County Water Authority customer, and all containers have been properly cleaned.

The Health Department said E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or headaches. Infants and others with weakened immune systems is at risk of increased risk of more severe symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should call their doctor.

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