Local News

Officials: Positive E.Coli Sample Came From One Pittsboro House

Posted January 22, 2004

— Residents of Pittsboro are being urged to boil water used for cooking and drinking after routine tests found traces of E. coli in the town's water supply.

Officials said a routine test at Curtis Thompson's house showed bacteria in the water. A second test taken on Friday confirmed the water had E. coli. Officials took samples at other homes on his street, but his house was the only one that tested positive for the bacteria.

"I can't figure why it was just us and not everybody," he said.

When bacteria is found in an area's water supply, the state requires 24 hours notification. The town of Pittsboro had preliminary results on Saturday and final results on Monday. Town officials are trying to figure out if it is some sort of mistake or a bigger problem.

"I haven't gone back and researched what happened, when and why," said Town Manager David Hughes. "We are still trying to deal with the situation and cure the problem."

The town water system supplies 3,300 customers, including 113 residences in the Bynum area that are on the county water system. As required, all water customers -- residential and business -- are being notified to boil water used for cooking and drinking.

It is a costly inconvenience for businesses, like Al's Diner.

Employees estimate it took $100 to outfit the restaurant with bottled water to make tea and coffee, ice, paper plates and plastic utensils to avoid the water supply.

The town is collecting additional samples, increasing disinfectant in the supply and flushing the system. State officials expect to have more test results by Friday and the boil order could soon be lifted. They also say a citation may be issued to the town for failing to report the incident in a timely manner.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The Health Department recommends that Pittsboro's water-supply customers take the following precautions until the notice is lifted:

  • Use purchased bottled water or water boiled for five minutes for drinking and food preparation.
  • Discard raw fruits and vegetables previously prepared in unboiled water.
  • Do not drink directly from water fountains or coolers.
  • Use boiled water for manual dishwashing.
  • Use boiled/bottled water for brushing teeth.
  • Use boiled/bottled water to make ice. If you have an icemaker, discard ice and turn off the unit until further notification.
  • Use commercially-prepared baby formula. Discard formula already prepared with water from the faucet.
  • Questions regarding the water system can be directed to the Town Hall at

    542-4621

    or the water department at

    542-3530

    .

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