Mapleton has issued a boil-water order after E. coli and total coliform bacteria were found in the city’s water supply.
Residents are warned not to drink their tap water until it has been boiled for at least three minutes, and that boiled or bottled water should also be used for making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and making food until further notice.
The city says it was notified on Thursday that samples taken from springs that supply 5% of Mapleton’s water showed the presence of E. coli and total coliform, two types of bacteria. The tests were taken in water before it was treated with chlorine, and the city immediately stopped using spring water.
Tests of the drinking water on Thursday showed the water was safe to drink, but because “we do not collect total coliform and E. coli samples every day, we wanted to let you be aware of the risk.” The city is working with the Division of Drinking Water “to resolve this situation,” according to the notice.
The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms, and are a particular health risk to infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.
According to the city, bacterial contamination can be present in spring water “especially during times of drought. Our water operators are working hard at determining the issues and the city is looking into redeveloping these springs.” And Mapleton will increase the frequency of sampling for coliform bacteria and complete an assessment of its system.
The notice did not say when the boil order will be lifted, but said that test results can take one to two days — longer on weekends — and that the city will notify residents when the water is deemed safe.