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The Town of Barnstable has put the following emergency order in effect as of May 30, 2020

We routinely monitor for the presence of drinking water contaminants to ensure the safety of the water supply. On May 29, 2020 we were notified that a fecal indicator (E. coli or enterococci) was detected in 1 out of 19 of our ground water sources and one in the distribution system which were collected on May 28, 2020 from our water system. These bacteria indicate that potentially harmful organisms may be present which can make you sick, and are a particular concern for people with weakened immune systems. In accordance with the new federal Ground Water Rule (GWR) requirements, we are notifying you of the situation and conducting additional sampling to evaluate the extent of potential fecal contamination and will take further actions as necessary.

To minimize potential exposure to bacterial contaminants while the source remains under evaluation we are advising consumers to BOIL their water until further notice.

What should I do?

Bring all water to a rolling boil, let it boil for one (1) minute, 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. Please refer to the attached notice and following information for additional precautions you can take.
Consumer Information on Boil Orders
Boil Order Frequently Asked Questions

Discard any ice, beverages, formula, and uncooked foods that were prepared with water from the public water system on or after [date of fecal indicator detection].

People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk and should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1 (800) 426-4791.

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). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

Food establishments must follow MA DPH procedures and the direction of their local board of health, which may be more stringent than the DPH guide. MA Department of Public Health – Guidance for Emergency Action Planning for Retail Food Establishments (pg. 19)

What does this mean?
Inadequately treated or inadequately protected water may contain disease-causing organisms. While fecal indicators are not typically harmful when ingested, fecal indicators are microbes whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems. These symptoms are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice.