Broadcast news outlet CBS4-KCNC published a story Aug. 5 reported that an Englewood water sample taken on Aug. 2 had a positive E. coli result and that the positive result was discovered on Aug. 3. Sample results are available 24 hours after the test is performed, according to a city statement.
Englewood sent out the boil-water advisory regarding the E. coli contamination on Aug. 4.
The City of Englewood has been coordinating with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Tri-County Health Department after the first positive test result, said a statement provided by the city from Angela Goodman, deputy director of the Englewood Utilities Department.
It wasn't immediately clear why the city didn't send out the boil-water advisory on Aug. 3 rather than Aug. 4. City spokespersons didn't immediately respond for comment about those questions the night of Aug. 5.
CBS4's story also reported that the city was once found to be in violation for a "backflow" issue regarding water.
But "the compliance ratio violation was for commercial backflow prevention self-reporting in 2020," the statement from Goodman said. "The city is currently in compliance with its backflow prevention compliance ratio."
CBS4's story also reported that Englewood was found to be in violation for failing to maintain inspection plans for its water storage tanks. It was unclear when that violation was identified or whether such a violation could lead to E. coli contamination.
City spokespersons didn't immediately respond for comment on that violation to the Englewood Herald the night of Aug. 5.
Englewood will host a "water distribution site" in response to the boil-water notice.
Water was initially to be limited to 48 ounces per person, but the city raised the limit to 64 ounces per person.
The city told residents to bring a water container to fill.
Asked about providing water for families, Ann Lauricello, city spokesperson, said:
"The city will be giving out water for up to four people (per person) even if they aren't present. If you bring your own water container to fill, the city will be able to provide you with more than the allotted 64 ounces per person."
The water distribution site opened around 8:30 p.m. Aug. 4, and it will be open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. until the boil-water warning is lifted, according to the city.
The city's distribution of clean water takes place on the east side of the Englewood Civic Center, the city hall, at 1000 Englewood Parkway — north of Hampden Avenue and just east of Santa Fe Drive.
Water is for residents in the affected area, water Zone 1, only. See the link in the main story to the right to determine whether you're in Zone 1. Generally, it's north, northwest, central and southwest Englewood.
The Arapahoe County Office of Emergency Management released a statement the evening of Aug. 5 about why residents outside of Englewood received an alert about the boil-water notice on Aug. 4.
The county office of emergency management, using Integrated Public Alert Warning System software, set parameters of the affected area within the City of Englewood to notify residents of the boil order, the statement said.
"For reasons currently under investigation by software engineers, the alert went beyond the set parameters notifying residents outside the city," the statement said. "The ACOEM and the software provider are actively investigating the software issue. The ACOEM apologized for any confusion and inconvenience this software glitch may have caused to those not affected by the boil order."
The county office also described its involvement in responding to the emergency on scene.
"By 8:30 pm, the City of Englewood, supported by the ACOEM, established a water distribution point at the Civic Center. This partnership immediately delivered 5,400 individual bottles of drinking water and 30 water tanks holding 275 gallons each for a total of 8,250 gallons to the distribution point," the statement said.
As of Aug. 5, the county office is still on scene "and will continue to support the provision of drinking water to the residents of the City of Englewood for the duration of the emergency," the statement said.
UPDATE: As of about 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 5, Englewood officials expected the water contamination problem to be resolved "within 48 to 72 hours."
"We will inform residents when tests show the absence of bacteria and we have been given the all clear from" the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said Ann Lauricello, city spokesperson.
Many Englewood residents need to boil water before using it to avoid potential E. coli infection, the city announced on the afternoon of Aug. 4.
"A sample of drinking water in your area tested positive for E. coli, a harmful bacteria," the city said in an emergency-alert phone text message.
The city issued a boil-water advisory for “Zone 1” of the city’s water distribution system, which includes north, northwest, central and southwest Englewood. To see a map and determine whether you live in Zone 1, visit the city's website here or call 303-762-2365.
“Please assume you are served by Zone 1 until you confirm otherwise,” the city’s announcement said.
The city said it is setting up a water distribution center at the Englewood Civic Center — the city hall — at 1000 Englewood Parkway, which will be available on Thursday, Aug. 5. The city hall sits just north of Hampden Avenue and east of Santa Fe Drive.
In accordance with drinking-water regulations, the city collects water quality samples at the beginning of each month, according to the announcement. On Aug. 3 and Aug. 4, the city collected water quality samples from 24 sites throughout the city’s water system. One sample site of the 24 was found to contain the presence of E. coli.
E. coli bacteria can make people sick and is of particular concern to people with weakened immune systems, the announcement said.
The city will inform residents when tests show no bacteria and they no longer need to boil your water, the announcement said. Englewood said it anticipates resolving the problem within 48 to 72 hours.
“Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses),” the city’s announcement said.
The city issued the following advisory and information:
• Do not drink the water without boiling it first.
• Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for three minutes, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
• "Anything that doesn’t go in your mouth is safe. Boiling water should be done for drinking water and water that you intend to cook with," for example, said Ann Lauricello, a city spokesperson. "Water used for washing clothes and showering does not need to be boiled."
• E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Human pathogens in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. They may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.
• The symptoms above are not only caused by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. If you have an infant, have a severely compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your doctor about drinking this water.
• General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by bacteria and other disease-causing organisms are available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
While the specific cause of the positive E. coli sample was unknown as of the afternoon Aug. 4, it's possible that bacterial contamination could occur at the specific test site as a result of a break in the distribution system (pipes), cross connection, a backflow event, or a failure in the water treatment process, the city’s announcement said.
Englewood is coordinating with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Tri-County Health Department to protect public health and resolve this situation, the announcement said. All customers within Zone 1 are under a boil water notice as required by law due to the presence of E. coli bacteria.
City of Englewood crews are flushing the water lines in Zone 1. The city is evaluating the distribution system and conducting additional testing to determine when boiling is no longer required.
The city was also setting up a call center to answer questions at 303-762-2365. However, residents are advised to visit the city’s website and visit the city’s social media sites for more information.
Residents are discouraged from calling the Englewood Police Department about the situation, the city’s announcement said.
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