Falmouth water must be boiled

By Shana Wickett
Globe Correspondent / June 17, 2010

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A boil water order has been issued for Falmouth after samples tested positive for coliform bacteria, including E. coli, according to the town Water Department.

The order was issued Tuesday by the state Department of Environmental Protection as a precaution, William Chapman, Falmouth’s water superintendent, said in a statement.

“There is no proof that harmful bacteria exists in the water system,’’ he said. “However, all residents are urged [to] boil water to be used for human or pet consumption.’’

The boil order will be lifted when samples test contaminant-free for two days, said Ed Coletta, spokesman for the DEP.

Residents should not drink the water or use it for making ice, preparing food, brushing teeth, or washing dishes without boiling it for at least one minute, according to the Water Department. Any juice, ice, formula, stored water, and uncooked foods prepared with tap water since June 7, when the first positive samples were taken, should be discarded, DEP officials said.

The high bacteria readings may have been caused by contamination from wildlife, excessive runoff, and recent rainfall that raised the water level, officials said.

The water sample that tested positive for E. coli was taken June 7, according to the Water Department. While no more than 5 percent of samples should test positive for coliform bacteria, 16 of the 44 samples taken this month — or about 36 percent — tested positive. Five samples tested positive for E. coli bacteria.

Fecal coliform and E. coli, which indicate contamination from human or animal waste, can cause diarrhea, cramps, headaches, and other symptoms.

Shana Wickett can be reached at

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