Greene County residents who get their drinking water from the Mountain Lakes Water Company are at risk of consuming E. coli and are being urged to boil all water before consuming.
“Failure to follow this advisory could result in stomach or intestinal illness,” Greene County said in a Monday statement made in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health’s Blue Ridge Health District.
It is expected it will be at least a week before the matter is resolved, the county said.
The trouble began on or about Sunday morning, when Mountain Lakes suffered a service disruption and customers lost all water pressure.
The Virginia Department of Health was not notified until Monday.
The loss of water pressure means E. coli may be able to infiltrate the water supply through the distribution system.
E. coli is a type of bacteria whose presence indicates that water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Human pathogens in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches among other symptoms. They may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.
Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, beverage and food preparation, making ice, bathing and brushing teeth until further notice, the county and health department said Monday.
“Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water and is the preferred method to assure that tap water is safe to drink. Bring all tap water to a rolling boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using. Alternatively, use bottled water.”
For those without gas or electricity, or who are otherwise unable to boil water:
Use liquid household bleach to disinfect water. The bleach product should be recently purchased, free of additives and scents, and contain a hypochlorite solution of at least 5.25%. Public health officials recommend adding eight drops of bleach (about a quarter of a teaspoon) to each gallon of water. The water should be stirred and allowed to stand for at least 30 minutes before use.
Or use water purification tablets. But be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
“It is anticipated the problem will be resolved within one week,” the county said. “However, due to repairs and sample verification, it may be longer.”
For more information, residents are encouraged to contact the Mountain Lakes Water Company at (434) 985-7504 or (434) 760-2172.