Since Aug. 31, a boil water advisory has remained in place for customers of five public water systems serving parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. There is no change to the advisory, and all customers should continue to boil water until the advisory is lifted.
The water systems are conducting an investigation to find the source of the contamination and will take corrective action to fix the problem once identified. At this time, the systems expect to have the investigation and corrective actions completed by Wednesday. If that is accomplished effectively, the necessary follow-up water testing may begin. Test results showing the absence of bacteria in the water are required every day for three days in a row before RIDOH can lift the advisory. Water system administrators and municipalities are continuing to alert customers about this advisory and will alert customers when it is lifted.
Consumers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems. Please note that as of Sept. 2, contact information for the affected water systems and communities has been updated as follows:
- Suez Water: 401-789-0271 (primary) or 401-316-2201 (secondary)
- Narragansett-Point Judith: Call Town Hall at (401) 782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, please call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
- Narragansett-North End: Call Town Hall at (401) 782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, please call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
- South Kingstown-South Shore: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
- South Kingstown-Middlebridge: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
The five systems' customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online at health.ri.gov/publications/instructions/HouseholdBoilWaterGuidance.pdf. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has also provided guidance to restaurants and other food establishments (link: health.ri.gov/publications/instructions/FoodServiceBoilWater.pdf) and will conduct outreach visits to ensure that the establishments in the area have received copies of the guidance, answer questions, and support them. RIDOH is also working with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and will hold a call with the superintendents on Monday morning to ensure the communities' schools receive proper guidance.
Additionally, customers served by the five water districts should be aware of the following updates in their communities:
- The Kingston Fire Station, which is not affected by the boil water advisory, invites customers from the affected communities to fill water bottles at the station as needed. To do so, please bring clean water bottles to the Kingston Fire District station, 35 Bills Rd, Kingston, RI 02881 (map) between the business hours of 8:30 am to 5 p.m.
- The Town of South Kingstown is being assisted by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) to provide bottled water to schools on Monday (approx. 10 pallets), as well as to Public Housing Authority residents (beginning Tuesday), and the Senior Center (Tuesday).
- Home-bound or other residents in need of assistance in securing water should contact South Kingstown Town Hall at 401-789-9331.
- A 24-hour hotline has been established at 401-789-1091. The elderly, people with disabilities, or others who are unable to leave their homes may call to request water delivered at no charge by officers of the Town of Narragansett Police Department.
- The Town of Narragansett has sent automated messages to constituents enrolled in the Code RED notification system, as well as to other vulnerable populations to alert them about the boil water advisory in effect.
- The Town of Narragansett is being assisted by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) to provide bottled water to schools on Monday (approx. 10 pallets).
For all customers affected by the boil water advisory:
Posted online are a map of the affected areas and a list of the streets in Narragansett and South Kingstown that are affected. (For more complete information about the areas covered, customers should contact the individual water systems.) Additionally, people can check their water bills to determine what system provides their water. Approximately 38,000 residents are impacted by this boil water advisory.
The E. coli finding was made during routine sampling by Suez Water, which sells water to the other systems. There have been no illnesses associated with these systems.
E. coli is bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.
A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on one of these five water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:
- Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
- Blood in the stool
- Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
- Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
- Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days
The University of Rhode Island's main campus is not on any of these systems. However, the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus is impacted by this advisory. Ninigret Park in Charlestown, which is hosting the Rhythm & Roots music festival this weekend, in not impacted.
If you have already contacted your water system and still have questions, visit www.health.ri.gov
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