Boil-water order issued for 4 Massachusetts towns over E. coli contamination


FAIRHAVEN, Mass (WPRI) — The Mattapoisett River Valley Water District has issued a boil-water order for four Massachusetts communities after E. coli was detected in the water distribution system.

Residents living in Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion and Rochester are urged to boil their water for at least a minute before drinking it or using it to prepare food, and the advisory is causing a rush to buy bottled water.

“I have children,” said Fairhaven resident Marsha King, “so I have to watch out for, you know, brushing teeth and making food.”

She also works at a local grocery store, and it’s affecting how the business operates. “I work in the produce department, and we use water all day,” King said. “So, we have to use jugs of water for everything.”

Businesses such as restaurants are stocking up on water and ice and reassuring the community that they’re doing what they can to keep everyone safe.

“We have tens of bags of ice in the freezer,” said Luke Sullivan, with Frontera Grill in Fairhaven. “So we have all the ice for our drinks. Everything’s fresh to stay away from the E. coli. It’s really bad right now. So until they can fix that problem, we’re gonna be proactive and take care of them.”

The water district said the E. coli was found during routine sampling conducted Tuesday.

The water district is currently flushing the distribution system with chlorinated water and will collect repeat samples on Thursday. The boil water advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people under a boil water advisory should use bottled water or boil tap water even if it’s filtered to avoid getting sick from possible germs in community water.

The CDC also says when under the advisory, people should refrain from using water from appliances connected to water lines, such as in the case of a refrigerator. And parents who formula-feed their children should use ready-to-use formula if possible.

In addition, the CDC urges caution when bathing or showering and recommends using bottled or boiled water to brush teeth.

“Be careful not to swallow any water when bathing or showering,” the CDC states.

The CDC said that in many cases during a boil water advisory, people can use tap water and soap to wash their hands, but the agency suggests following guidance from local public health officials.

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