Contaminated water found near Milton, Lewes

DOVER — Nearly 1,700 residents near Lewes and Milton are being advised to boil tap water before drinking it after samples collected last week tested positive for bacteria, including E. coli.

The Department of Health and Social Services said Friday that Broadkiln Beach Water Company has been instructed to notify customers of water contamination.

Broadkiln shares a connection with PrimeHook Water Company, meaning individuals who receive water from either provider should take steps to avoid becoming sick.

Samples collected Wednesday from Broadkiln Beach Water Company tested positive for E. coli when results came in Friday.

According to DHSS, a prior routine test indicated the presence of total coliform bacteria, mandating a second analysis.

Until further notice individuals served by either company should only use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food. It is safe to use tap water for washing clothes and bathing.

The impacted area is north of Lewes and east of Milton.

By law, the operator is required to inform all customers of the advisory.

The well and the distribution system have been disinfected and flushed, and a chlorine treatment system has been put in place. A sample Friday tested negative for E. coli, but two consecutive negative results are required before the boil notice can be lifted.

The results of the second test are expected today. DHSS will announce when the water is safe to drink.

Many types of E. coli bacteria are harmless, but some can cause illness, and their presence may indicate water is contaminated by fecal matter. Organisms in water can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or headaches. Anyone experiencing persistent symptoms should contact a health care provider.

Contaminants pose an extra risk for infants, young children and people with seriously weakened immune systems.

Run-off, which may occur after a heavy rain, can cause bacteria to enter drinking water supplies. A break in the pipes or a failure in the water treatment process can also be behind it.

Water suppliers are required to send customers a water quality report annually.

For more information about E-coli, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/ecolifaq.pdf or https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/disease/e_coli.html.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment