The city of Baltimore has issued a boil water advisory in western sections of the city after officials detected E.coli in some water samples.
In a news release on Monday, the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) said it found the contamination during routine testing at the West Baltimore neighborhoods of Sandtown-Winchester and Harlem Park.
The advisory affects about 1,500 residential and commercial facilities in the West Baltimore area, including some areas in neighboring Baltimore and Howard counties, the city said.
“As an extra precaution, DPW will be sampling and surveying the communities in the area of the facilities where the original sampling was performed,” the department wrote in a tweet on Monday. “Right now, the impact appears only at the facilities listed above, and they are being told to use water for flushing only.”
E.coli is a bacterial specimen that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches. It poses a particular health risk to young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.
The DPW recommended that residents living in the impacted areas boil their water for a minute before using it, noting that boiled and bottled water can be used to brush teeth, wash fruits and vegetables, feed pets, and prepare food.
In a news conference on Monday, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) said that officials retested the bacterial specimen to confirm the contamination before notifying the public, according to The Baltimore Sun.
“We are taking this issue very seriously,” Scott said at the news conference. “This is why we’re here with a full operation of our operation center.”
In a tweet, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said that he and his officials have received a briefing on the situation from the state’s Department of Environment, which is currently assisting city officials on the matter.
“We continue to monitor the situation,” he added.
Baltimore is the latest U.S. city to experience problems with its main water system.
Parts of metro Detroit were under a boil water advisory after storms last week, and Jackson, Miss., has been under a boil water advisory since July, along with water outages after massive flooding last month.
In a news conference on Monday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said that the state will explore numerous long-term options in an effort to fix the city’s main water system, which has been a longtime problem.