Authorities are urging residents in the city of Rockford to use only boiled or bottled water after a malfunction at their water treatment plant allowed bacteria to seep into the water system.
Rockford city workers say an equipment malfunction at the treatment plant over the holiday weekend resulted in lower levels of chlorine residuals in the city’s water system.
The Kent County Health Department reported that six tests of the water were taken; five resulted in findings of coliform bacteria in the water supply. Follow-up testing on Wednesday detected E. Coli in the water.
The Kent County Health Department has additional recommendations for customers of the system:
1. Water from the city system should not be used for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, preparing/washing foods, or washing dishes. Any water used for these activities should be brought to a boil. Let it bubble for at least one minute, and let it cool before using. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Bottled water is also recommended for these activities during the advisory. Continue using boiled or bottled water until further notice. DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST.
2. Drinking fountains should be shut off. This is especially necessary in public buildings, schools, workplaces, and churches.
3. If you experience significant gastrointestinal issues, and used city water in the past 48-72 hours, discuss with your health care provider. Those with compromised immune system, infants, women who are pregnant, or the elderly are at increased risk of illness from bacteria in drinking water. Symptoms of illness from E. coli exposure typically take 2-4 days todevelop, but can take as many as eight days.
4. The Health Department recommends hand washing with water that has been boiled and then cooled or bottled water for a minimum of 20 seconds, followed by using a hand sanitizer. Sponge baths are recommended for children. After showering or bathing, wash hands with water that has been boiled and then cooled or bottled water for a minimum of 20 seconds, followed by using a hand sanitizer. Avoid getting water in your (or your child’s) mouth.
Continue using boiled or bottled water until further notice. The city will update residents on the situation through the local media, on their website, and on the city’s facebook page.