All of the boil water advisories that had been in place since August 31st for customers of five water systems in Narragansett and South Kingstown have been lifted. The final advisory, on the Narragansett – North End water system, was lifted today. Advisories on the Suez, Narragansett – Point Judith, South Kingstown – South Shore, and South Kingstown – Middlebridge water systems were lifted on September 8th.
All five systems had samples on three consecutive days that were absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli bacteria. A sample taken early in the day on September 7th in the Narragansett – North End system indicated the presence of coliform bacteria. However, the system did flushing and treatment that afternoon and drew three additional samples that day. That second set of samples on September 7th, as well as samples drawn on September 8th and September 9th, were absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli bacteria. The test results by day are available at www.health.ri.gov. The systems will continue to be tested regularly for E. coli and other contaminants.
"Ensuring the safety and quality of Rhode Island's drinking water is one of the core functions of the Rhode Island Department of Health," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Our team worked almost around the clock since these advisories went into place to get safe water coming out of people's taps again as soon as possible, to educate residents and business owners on the boil water guidance, and to monitor the region for any drinking water-related illnesses. However, this could not have happened without the partnership of dozens of leaders at the state and local levels. We will continue to build on these collaborations to ensure that people continue to have safe water to drink, safe and healthy food to eat, clean air to breathe, and healthy communities to call home, regardless of their ZIP code."
Although customers of these five water systems no longer need to boil their water there are certain steps that people should take before using their water again to make sure that it is safe. People should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and run all faucets and taps for 10 minutes. Additional guidance, including guidance for schools, food establishments, and healthcare facilities, is available at www.health.ri.gov.
Although several potential sources were 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).
If customers have questions, who should they contact?
Customers 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)
What has RIDOH been doing in response to boil water advisory?
- Worked closely with the water systems to find and eliminate any potential sources of contamination. - Provided 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. - Issued clinical guidance on symptoms, reporting procedures, and status updates to healthcare providers throughout Rhode Island. - Coordinated closely with water system managers, local town administrators, state legislators, and other key stakeholders. - Provided technical assistance to the drinking water systems for drinking water treatment. - Sent 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. - Communicated with restaurants, grocery stores, and food establishments by email, fax, phone, and direct visits to ensure that they understand the boil water guidance. - Communicated with school leadership in Narragansett and South Kingstown about food service, water procurement, and hand washing. - Partnered 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. - Investigated all reports of gastrointestinal illness in Narragansett or South Kingstown.
For more information, see http://www.health.ri.gov or call 401-222-5960.