UPDATE: As of about 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 5, Englewood officials expected the water contamination problem to be resolved "within 48 to 72 hours."
"We will inform residents when tests show the absence of bacteria and we have been given the all clear from" the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said Ann Lauricello, city spokesperson.
Many Englewood residents need to boil water before using it to avoid potential E. coli infection, the city announced on the afternoon of Aug. 4.
"A sample of drinking water in your area tested positive for E. coli, a harmful bacteria," the city said in an emergency-alert phone text message.
The city issued a boil-water advisory for “Zone 1” of the city’s water distribution system, which includes north, northwest, central and southwest Englewood. To see a map and determine whether you live in Zone 1, visit the city's website here or call 303-762-2365.
“Please assume you are served by Zone 1 until you confirm otherwise,” the city’s announcement said.
The city said it is setting up a water distribution center at the Englewood Civic Center — the city hall — at 1000 Englewood Parkway, which will be available on Thursday, Aug. 5. The city hall sits just north of Hampden Avenue and east of Santa Fe Drive.
In accordance with drinking-water regulations, the city collects water quality samples at the beginning of each month, according to the announcement. On Aug. 3 and Aug. 4, the city collected water quality samples from 24 sites throughout the city’s water system. One sample site of the 24 was found to contain the presence of E. coli.
E. coli bacteria can make people sick and is of particular concern to people with weakened immune systems, the announcement said.
The city will inform residents when tests show no bacteria and they no longer need to boil your water, the announcement said. Englewood said it anticipates resolving the problem within 48 to 72 hours.
“Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses),” the city’s announcement said.
What to do
The city issued the following advisory and information:
• Do not drink the water without boiling it first.
• Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for three minutes, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
• "Anything that doesn’t go in your mouth is safe. Boiling water should be done for drinking water and water that you intend to cook with," for example, said Ann Lauricello, a city spokesperson. "Water used for washing clothes and showering does not need to be boiled."
• 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 greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.
• The symptoms above are not only caused by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. If you have an infant, have a severely compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your doctor about drinking this water.
• General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by bacteria and other disease-causing organisms are available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
While the specific cause of the positive E. coli sample was unknown as of the afternoon Aug. 4, it's possible that bacterial contamination could occur at the specific test site as a result of a break in the distribution system (pipes), cross connection, a backflow event, or a failure in the water treatment process, the city’s announcement said.
Englewood is coordinating with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Tri-County Health Department to protect public health and resolve this situation, the announcement said. All customers within Zone 1 are under a boil water notice as required by law due to the presence of E. coli bacteria.
What is being done?
City of Englewood crews are flushing the water lines in Zone 1. The city is evaluating the distribution system and conducting additional testing to determine when boiling is no longer required.
The city was also setting up a call center to answer questions at 303-762-2365. However, residents are advised to visit the city’s website and visit the city’s social media sites for more information.
Residents are discouraged from calling the Englewood Police Department about the situation, the city’s announcement said.