Published Sept. 23 at 11:26 a.m., Updated at 4:52 p.m.
The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) Sunday afternoon issued a boil-water advisory for customers of the Kent County Water Authority (KCWA) and for Potowomut customers of the City of Warwick Water.
KCWA tests confirmed the presence of E. Coli in the public water supply and representatives say the Authority is working closely with HEALTH to correct the problem as soon as possible.
HEALTH expects the boil-water advisory to be in place for a minimum of four days – until the water authorities have three consecutive days of test results that are within acceptable standards. Customers of the affected areas are asked to contact neighbors who may not be aware of the advisory.
Officials recommend that water being used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, cooking, or bathing of infants should be boiled for one minute and allowed to cool before using. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Bottled water may also be used.
Restaurants and food handlers in the affected areas should use bottled or boiled water and purchase ice for food preparation until further notice. School children in the affected areas should bring bottled or boiled and cooled water to school with them to drink.
As of Monday morning, officials from Coventry Public Schools ordered all drinking fountains to be turned off and were expecting shipments of bottled water for drinking. In addition, Superintendent Dr. Michael Almeida announced that the school district's food service provider, Aramark, has made necessary arrangements for its lunch program this week.
E. Coli bacteria can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or headaches. Infants, young children and anyone with a weakened immune system is at an increased risk for developing more severe symptoms. Consumers who experience any of these symptoms, even if tap water has been avoided, should call their healthcare provider.
The source of the presence of E. Coli bacteria is under investigation.