E. Coli found in Tri-Town water, boil water order in effect

Oct 6, 2021

E. coli was found in Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester drinking water following a routine test on Oct. 5.

As a result, the Tri-Town and Fairhaven are under a boil water order. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice, as E. coli can cause illness — especially in those with weakened immune systems.

About E. coli

E. coli is a type of bacteria that indicates water may be contaminated with human or animal waste, potentially leading to symptoms including diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. A greater risk may be posed to infants, young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

For more information, Marion and Rochester residents should contact DPW Director Nathaniel Mufano at 508-748-3540, and Mattapoisett residents should contact Water Superintendent Henri Renauld at 508-758-4161.

What’s being done

Since the positive E. coli test, temporary chlorination of the water system has begun. The towns will inform residents when tests show no bacteria and the boil water notice ends.

"We are working closely with the DEP and our partners in Fairhaven, Mattapoisett and Rochester to resolve this issue," Marion Town Administrator Jay McGrail said. "We appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation and will be providing updates to our residents as soon as they are available."

What to do now

When boiling water, allow it to boil for one minute and cool before use. Boiling water kills bacteria and other organisms that may be present. Food establishments must boil water for five minutes.

Residents of Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester should discard any ice, beverages or uncooked food prepared with water from the public system on or before Oct. 5.

Water in the schools

Five of the six schools in the Old Rochester Regional School District are under boil water orders.

"Water used at the Rochester Memorial School is not public water, and instead is supplied through a well," Facilities Director Gene Jones said. "This well water is tested independently and regularly, and is not affected by the drinking water warning issued today. We would like to assure Rochester Memorial School families that the water being used in the building is safe."

The five affected schools will follow guidelines from state and local officials related to the warning in regard to facilities work and food operations.

"We will follow all directives of the officials in each town, and will ensure students and staff have the necessary resources to continue their school days with as little disruption and inconvenience as possible while this drinking water warning remains in place," Superintendent Mike Nelson said. "We will continue to monitor the situation and keep the school community updated regarding any additional impact to the schools."

Bottled water and hand sanitizer is being made available for students at the affected schools. All water that will be used for cooking or drinking will be boiled before use. Additionally, drinking fountains and water refill stations will also be closed at the affected schools until the drinking water warning is lifted.

"Our food services staff will follow the guidance provided by town officials including discarding food or beverage items in accordance with their directives, as well as boiling public water used in our day-to-day food services operations," Director of Food Services Jill Henesey said.

Risk to pets

The same precautions to protect humans also apply to pets.

Pets should be given bottled water or boiled water that has cooled. Water from any appliance connected to a water line, such as ice and water from a refrigerator, should not be used for pets while under a boil water order. Fish or other aquatic pets should not be exposed to water containing elevated bacteria levels, and appropriately boiled or bottled water should be used instead.