Inside the search for the source of E. Coli in Tri-Town water

Oct 8, 2021

Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester residents will have to continue boiling their water for now, but Mattapoisett Water Superintendent Henri Renauld is working to find a solution.

E. coli was found in the water of the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District — servicing Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester and Fairhaven — On Oct. 5.

“We noticed E. coli showed up in all our systems,” Renauld said.

On Oct. 6, a boil water order was issued in all three towns, as E. coli can cause illness, especially in those with compromised immune systems.

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.

While the exact source of the E. coli is as-yet undetermined, Renauld said he and the Mattapoisett Water and Sewer Department are looking for “the precise spot — which we will find.”

“E. coli is found in a lot of different places,” Renauld said, adding it could have entered the
water system through runoff, cracks in the system, a hole large enough to fit a small animal like a mouse, or any other number of circumstances.

“If I went through the whole list, it would take me two hours,” Renauld said.

In September, one of the eight water district wells was taken offline following an E. coli issue, and has yet to return to operation.

After taking the well off the system, Renauld said further tests of the water showed no results.

Now, Renauld said tests will continue to be run on the water system in the coming days and weeks, and Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester will inform residents when the boil water order ends.