Englewood residents expressed dismay Thursday as the city’s contaminated water situation continued for a second day, with officials hurrying to determine what caused E. coli to seep into the drinking water.
The city on Wednesday evening issued a boil advisory to a section of its residents, saying they expect the issue to be resolved within the next few days. Officials have not yet said how the contamination occurred.
“While the specific cause of the positive E. coli sample is unknown at this time it’s possible that bacterial contamination could occur at the specific test site, as a result of a break in the distribution system (pipes), cross connection, backflow event, or a failure in the water treatment process,” Englewood officials said on the city website.
City employees gathered before dawn Thursday, bagging bottles of water to hand out to residents. Individuals came in droves throughout the day, sometimes filling up their own bottles with clean water sitting in massive tanks.
“This has been a hell of an inconvenience,” said Kevin McKinley, an Englewood resident.
The water in Englewood wasn’t any good even before the E. Coli mess, he said.
“Are we in Flint, Michigan, or are we in Englewood, Colorado? McKinley asked.
Kiley Ortiz said she was “blindsided” by the boil advisory and did not receive a text or email alert.
The communication piece confused metro residents Wednesday evening, with people from Aurora to Denver and the southern suburbs getting push alerts to their phones — even though their water wasn’t impacted.
Denver and Aurora water authorities said they don’t know what happened with the push alerts, but assured their residents that their water is fine.
“We didn’t initiate that alert,” said Todd Hartman, spokesperson for Denver Water.
Both municipalities said they got a bunch of calls, social media questions and website traffic after the notification went out.
Greg Baker, spokesman for Aurora Water, said the alert snafu caused the agency to take a look at its notification system to make sure it’s fine-tuned in case of emergency.
“It’s one of those things you don’t think about until you have to use it,” Baker said.
Englewood water officials were alerted to the contamination issue after collecting water quality samples Tuesday and Wednesday.
“One of the 24 sites was found to contain the presence of E. coli,” officials said on the city website.
E. coli can make people sick and is especially nasty for those with weakened immune systems.
For as long as the advisory remains in place, residents can pick up 64 ounces water per person between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway, in Englewood.
Those unable to come to the Civic Center can call the Malley Recreation Center — 303-762-2660 — between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and someone will have water delivered
People in the affected zone are being warned to avoid drinking their water unless they boil it first for three minutes, before letting it cool. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation, the city said.
The area under order, Zone One, is roughly south of Ruby Hill, west of Cherry Hills Village, along U.S. 85, east of Sheridan and north of Littleton.
To check if your address is in the affected zone, visit bit.ly/3Ce2nqi.
For Englewood residents, the boil advisory has made everyday household chores like cleaning the dishes a hassle.
“It’s really the pits trying to keep everything clean,” said Janet Vera. “I hope at least by Sunday that the water is back.”
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