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Updated Water Sample Results Posted Online

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) homepage, www.health.ri.gov, now includes water sample test results for the boil water advisory, which is still in place in parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown.

This information will be updated regularly to allow residents and business owners in the affected area to easily access the test results, the map and addresses included in the affected area, as well as RIDOH's standard guidance about boil water advisories. Guidance about what people and businesses should do after the advisories are lifted will also be posted on this webpage once the water has been deemed absent of bacteria for three days in a row.

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.

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. Because the systems are all being sampled separately, a boil water advisory on one system can be lifted before the others. However, because the Suez Water system impacts all other system, a change in the results from Suez would impact the other water systems. The water systems began collecting samples on September 5th. It takes between 24 and 48 hours for samples to be analyzed.

Results for samples collected on September 5th:

- Suez Water - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

- South Kingstown-South Shore - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

- South Kingstown-Middlebridge - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

- Narragansett-Point Judith - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

- Narragansett-North End - absent E. Coli, but coliform bacteria was present

Results for samples collected on September 6th:

- Suez Water - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

- South Kingstown-South Shore - results still pending

- South Kingstown-Middlebridge - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

- Narragansett-Point Judith - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

- Narragansett-North End - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

Because of the coliform bacteria finding in the Narragansett-North End system that was taken on September 5th, that system's boil water advisory will be in place for at least one additional day. (The boil water advisory for the Narragansett-North End system at this point would continue through Sunday evening, if all subsequent test results are absent of bacteria for three days in a row).

The water systems have submitted a treatment plan to RIDOH and are 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.

Although several potential sources have been evaluated, the source of the contamination has yet to be identified. Indications are that this was an isolated instance of contamination (as opposed to contamination from an on-going issue). Regardless, members of the public should strictly adhere to the boil water advisory until it is lifted.

What has RIDOH been doing in response to boil water advisory?

- Working closely with the water systems to find and eliminate any potential sources of contamination.

- Providing guidance and updates to the press and public in the form of press releases, social media posts, maps, streets lists, and Frequently Asked Questions documents.

- Issuing clinical guidance on symptoms, reporting procedures, and status updates to healthcare providers throughout Rhode Island.

- Coordinating closely with water system managers, local town administrators, state legislators, and other key stakeholders.

- Providing technical assistance to the drinking water systems for drinking water treatment.

- Sending guidance and making calls to each hospital, nursing home, assisted living community, and dialysis center in the affected area to ensure that they understand the boil water guidance, and to ensure they are able to provide safe water to residents and patients. RIDOH staff also visited all the nursing homes and assisted living sites in the area.

- Communicating with restaurants, grocery stores, and food establishments by email, fax, phone, and direct visits to ensure that they understand the boil water guidance.

- Communicating with school leadership in Narragansett and South Kingstown about food service, water procurement, and hand washing.

- Partnering with the Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs to provide specific information to seniors about how to get bottled, should any senior be unable to. This outreach was done through churches, non-profits organizations, and other community groups.

- Continuing to investigate any reports of gastrointestinal illness in Narragansett or South Kingstown.

Frequently asked questions

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. Separate guidance 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 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

For further guidance and links RIDOH's previous press releases, visit health.ri.gov

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