Utility workers in Cape Coral, Fla., hooked up four homes to the city's treated wastewater instead of its purified drinking water, a mistake that went unnoticed for several months.
One family drank the substandard water for more than three months. Two other homes were hooked up about a month ago, and a fourth was vacant, officials said.
Although the lines have been fixed, there are health concerns for the residents.
Cape Coral's wastewater is filtered and treated with chlorine, but that doesn't eliminate parasites that can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea, said Lee County Public Health Director Dr. Judith Hartner.
"Mistakes were made," City Manager Terry Stewart said yesterday. "The best we can do is make it right."
Ron Kazel, who learned Wednesday that his water had been connected to the irrigation system since June, would not comment on whether he and his wife were experiencing health problems.
"I'm livid," Kazel said.
The wastewater comes from residential sinks and toilets. It is sanitized at one of the city's treatment plants before being routed back to a resident's lawn irrigation system. It often is blended with fresh water from canals.