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Hattiesburg issues boil water notice after E. coli found in sample

Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 at 5:59 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg issued a boil water notice Friday for residents who receive their water from the city after an E. coli contamination was confirmed in a sample of the city’s water.

The sample was one of 50 taken on Wednesday during the city’s monthly screening of its water supply system, according to a news release from the city. The sample came from the 1900 block of Hardy Street.

“Because we know where the sample comes from and only one of 50 samples is positive for contamination, it is likely that the issue is specific to that sample site – such as a corroded pipe or contaminated spigot,” said Alan Howe, director of Water and Sewer.

The boil water notice affects approximately 46,000 customers, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

E. coli is a bacteria whose presence in drinking water can pose a serious health risk. Fecal coliforms and E. coli in drinking water indicate that the water may be contaminated by human or animal waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Microbes in contaminated water can cause short-term effects such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms that can pose a special health risk to infants, young children and people with severely compromised immune systems, according to the EPA.

For the boil water notice to be lifted, two sets of 60 additional samples from upstream and downstream the test site have to be collected, tested and cleared for two consecutive days, in accordance with Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines.

“The general health and wellness for our community is our priority, and we will work with the Department of Health to make sure we pinpoint the issue, what caused the contamination and what will need to be done to fix it, immediately,” Mayor Toby Barker said in the release.

Because of the testing requirements, the boil water notice will likely last for at least 48 hours.

Residents are recommended to boil all water for one minute before it is consumed.

The Mississippi State Department of Health recommends the following checklist to ensure safe water use:

DO NOT

  • Do not drink tap water while the water system is under a boil water advisory.
  • Do not drink from water fountains in parks, public or private buildings that receive water from the affected system.
  • Do not use ice unless it has been made with boiled water. Freezing will not necessarily kill harmful bacteria.
  • Do not use tap water to make drinks, juices, or fountain soft drinks.

DO

  • Wash your dishes in boiled water, or use paper plates for the next few days.
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables with boiled or bottled water since they may have been exposed to affected water from grocery store sprayers.
  • Wash your hands and bathe as usual. Bathing is safe as long as no water is swallowed.
  • Brush your teeth with boiled or bottled water.
  • Cook with tap water if the food will be boiled for at least one minute.

AND REMEMBER:

  • Properly chlorinated water in swimming pools is safe.
  • Fish in aquariums are not affected.
  • Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will inactivate all major types of harmful bacteria.

For additional information, visit msdh.state.ms.us.

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