E. coli detected in Drakes water

Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2019

State Health Officials have detected E. coli in the Town of Drakes Branch’s drinking water. Citizens are urged to boil tap water before drinking.

E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Human pathogens in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. They may pose a higher health risk for infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.

According to a release from the Town of Drakes Branch, E. coli was detected in a sample collected from the towns distribution system on June 25 and total coliform bacteria were detected in follow up samples on July 1.
“We violated the standard for E. coli, indicating the need to look for potential problems in water treatment or distribution. When this occurs, we are required to conduct a detailed assessment to identify problems and to correct any problems that are found,” the release stated.

State Health Officials will be assessing the waterworks department to determine the possible cause for the detection of E. coli in the distribution system.

Town officials noted that they would be following up with corrective actions noted in the assessment and plan to notify citizens as soon as the water issue is corrected.

The Town anticipates resolving the problem within the next week and were scheduled to collect and test additional samples earlier in the week.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the following general guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by E. coli.

Bring all tap water to a rolling boil, let it boil for one minute and let it cool before using, or use bottled water.

Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, beverage and food preparation, brushing teeth and making ice. Boiling kills bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms in the water. Boiling is the preferred method to assure that the tap water is safe to drink. Water does not need to be boiled for washing clothes, bathing, washing dishes, or other uses where water is not ingested. However, care should be taken not to allow children or infants to drink the bathwater or let it get into their mouths.

If you cannot boil your tap water:

• An alternative method of purification for residents that do not have gas or electricity available is to use liquid household bleach to disinfect water. The bleach product should be recently purchased, free of additives and scents, and should contain a hypochlorite solution of at least 5.25%. Public health officials recommend adding eight drops of bleach (about 1/4 teaspoon) to each gallon of water. The water should be stirred and allowed to stand for at least 30 minutes before use.
• Water purification tablets may also be used by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Potable water is available for purchase at the following locations: Dollar General in Drakes Branch, Dollar General in Charlotte Court House or Food Lion in Keysville.