The five water systems serving parts of South Kingstown and Narraganset that are under a boil water advisory began resampling yesterday to determine whether the water from those systems is again safe to drink. Test results showing the absence of bacteria in the water are required every day for three days in a row before the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) can lift the advisory. Yesterday's test results will not be available until later this afternoon.
Since August 31st, a boil water advisory has been in place for customers of the Suez Water, Narragansett-Point Judith, Narragansett-North End, South Kingstown-South Shore, and South Kingstown-Middlebridge water systems. The advisory was put in place because E. Coli bacteria was found in the water supply. E. Coli is an indicator of fecal contamination. There is currently no change to the advisory. All customers of these systems should continue to boil water until the advisory is lifted.
"Staff at Rhode Island Department of Health, and throughout State government, have remained vigilant throughout this process because E. Coli can cause serious illness," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "We have been working since the boil water advisory began to ensure that restaurants, schools, healthcare and long-term care facilities, other food service providers, and town officials all have the guidance they need to respond to the advisory. Our Center for Drinking Water and Center for Food Protection staff were out in the communities throughout the holiday weekend conducting inspections and providing on-site assistance, as needed, and continue to be available to answer questions as they arise."
The water systems have submitted a treatment plan to RIDOH and have begun treating the water, which includes adjusting the chlorine levels in the water. Larger drinking water systems use chlorine, even when there is no contamination issue, because chlorine disinfects and kill germs. The levels of chlorine in the five systems are being increased to further disinfect the pipes. Using or drinking water with small amounts of chlorine does not cause harmful health effects and provides protection against waterborne illnesses. Federal limits are set on how much chlorine can be added to water. The water systems in South County are staying well below this level.
Using computer modeling, field inspection and sampling, the water systems and RIDOH are continuing to evaluate different potential sources of the issue. Common causes of E. coli contamination include broken pipes and backflow into the water system. The water systems will continue to be tested regularly for E. Coli and other contaminants.
What should customers of the affected water systems do? 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 [link below]. Separate guidance [link below] is available for restaurants and other food establishments. Food establishments with additional questions can call the RIDOH Center for Food Protection at 401-222-2749 or 401-222-2750.
Who should be contacted with questions? Consumers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems.
- 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, 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, 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)
How can the elderly, people with disabilities, or others who are unable to leave their homes to get bottled water? Narragansett residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-1091. South Kingstown residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-9331. Individuals who live in the affected areas of Narragansett and South Kingstown are also encouraged to check on their neighbors and friends who may need assistance.
Where can people fill bottles of water? The location where Narragansett and South Kingstown residents who are affected by the current boil water advisory can get bottles filled with clean water is West Kingston Park, located at 3840 Kingstown Road, in West Kingston. Residents from both Narragansett and South Kingstown are welcome at this filling station from 8:30 am to 5 p.m.
What are the symptoms of E. Coli, and when should a healthcare provider be contacted? 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
If you have already contacted your water system and still have questions, visit www.health.ri.gov