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STONE HARBOR - Stone Harbor's water system recently conducted maintenance to its water storage tank and failed to perform required volatile organic compound (VOC) and total coliform testing prior to placing the water storage tank back online May 21. 

According to a release, the borough has flushed the system, so that water from the water storage tank is no longer in the distribution system. However, in absence of total coliform sampling results, it is issuing a boil water advisory until further notice. 

Total coliform, if present, may be an indicator of E.coli, which are bacteria that can cause illness and are especially a concern for people with weakened immune systems. 

What does this mean?

  • E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Human pathogens in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. They may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source (for example, following heavy rains). It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process.

What to do? 

  • Do not drink water without boiling it first. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
  • The symptoms above are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. Those who experience any of these symptoms and they persist may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice from their healthcare providers about drinking this water.

What is being done? 

Stone Harbor flushed its distribution system May 24, so water from the water storage tank is no longer present, and the borough will be collecting the required samples May 25. Flushing has addressed concerns of VOCs in the distribution system. Some VOCs can increase the risk for cancer if swallowed or breathed in large amounts over a long period of time. 

At very high levels, they can cause damage to the nervous and immune systems, and to the kidneys and liver. 

The water storage tank will remain offline and isolated from the system until VOC and total coliform results are available and the state approves the use of the tank. Stone Harbor will inform residents when tests show no bacteria are present in the distribution system and they no longer need to boil their water. The borough anticipates resolving the problem by May 26.

For more information, please contact Grant Russ, at 609-368-7311 ext 202, or 80th Street and Third Avenue, in Stone Harbor. 

General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by bacteria and other disease-causing organisms are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline, at 1-800-426-4791.

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