E. coli bacteria found Tuesday in the water supply in Franklin, N.H., prompted officials to issue an order instructing residents to boil their water. The bacteria was found in one of the eight samples taken.
The contamination was found at the Babbitt Road pumping station, Brian Sullivan, the city's director of municipal services, told the Concord Monitor. Franklin tests eight of its wells each month, he said, and this is the first time a sample has contained bacteria. E. coli bacteria indicates the water has not been sufficiently treated to remove fecal waste. If ingested, it can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches.
"We're hoping it's an error in the sampling," Sullivan said. "Sometimes improper handling can cause the contamination." Municipal services tested the Babbitt Road station again yesterday and will do so today. If both samples come back clean on Friday, the order will be lifted. In the meantime, the 2,200 homes and businesses depending on city water are out of luck.
The order instructs users to boil their water for at least two minutes or use bottled water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and/or food preparation.
Yesterday, Franklin Regional Hospital ordered nearly 200 gallons of bottled water and plenty of bagged ice from nearby Laconia, according to a press release. Nurses placed bottled water at each patient's bedside, and the hospital shut down the water supply to individual rooms to prevent any accidental exposure.
Patients will be bathed with pre-soaped and pre-moistened washcloths, the release said, and waterless foam soap will be available in all public restrooms.
Paper and plastic products will be used in the dining areas. Also, all surgical equipment will be sterilized at Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia, and surgeons will use bottled water to scrub in before entering the operating room.
School Superintendant Robert McKenney said they're taking similar precautions at the elementary schools, the middle school and the high school.