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Boil water advisory issued for Rockford; E. coli found

5:23 PM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
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ROCKFORD, Mich. (WZZM) -- Schools within the Rockford city limits will remain closed through Friday because of E. coli bacteria contamination in the city's water supply.

The closure affects:

  • Meadow Ridge Elementary
  • Parkside Elementary
  • Valley View Elementary
  • North Rockford Middle School
  • River Valley Academy
  • Child Care at the Rockford Administration Building
  • Our Lady of Consolation School

The city of Rockford will continue handing out water bottles to city residents Thursday and Friday.

Resurrection Life Church Rockford, on 10 Mile Rd near Meijer is also helping local residents. The church is supplied by well water, therefore unaffected by the water ban. The church will be open Thursday afternoon/evening to assist local residents with their water needs. Residents are encouraged to bring water containers and stop by the church where we will fill them free of charge.

For any questions, please contact the church office, 616-866-3377. The office is open until 4 pm.

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WZZM) -- The city of Rockford issued a boil water order after tests confirmed the presence of E. coli bacteria.

Over Labor Day weekend, an equipment failure at the Rockford Water Treatment Plant caused lower levels of chlorine.

Rockford's City Manager says Tuesday a chlorine pump malfunction and a back up alarm failed, causing ecoli to form in the water.

Michael Young, Rockford City Manager says, "It was a perfect storm of technical difficulties, a long weekend, between Saturday and Tuesday when we came in, that's when we had the problem."

Rockford is issuing a 48 hour boil water notice as a precautionary measure. The water department will be taking water samples from throughout the water distribution system.

Health officials advised residents to use bottled water Wednesday or boil tap water before using it for drinking, brushing teeth or preparing food. Officials say public drinking fountains should be turned off.

Rockford has approximately 2,100 households and 400 businesses that use the water. There have been no reports of illness, although E. coli can cause severe cramps, nausea and diarrhea.

Rockford Public School officials are closing several buildings because of the water contamination:

  • Meadow Ridge Elementary
  • Parkside Elementary
  • Valley View Elementary
  • North Rockford Middle School
  • River Valley Academy
  • Child Care (administration building)

All other schools are in session and transportation routes will run as normal. Our Lady of Consolation School is also closed due to the water contamination.

Pastor Mark Love at St. Peter's Lutheran says his preschool was preparing to open, but plans are now on hold. 

"Kids love a water fountain so you have to play bad guy and say stay away."

The Kent County Health Department has recommendations for Rockford water customers:

1. Water from the city system should not be used for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, preparing/washing foods, or washing dishes. Any water used for these activities should be brought to a boil. Let it bubble for at least one minute, and let it cool before using. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Bottled water is also recommended for these activities during the advisory. Continue using boiled or bottled water until further notice. DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST.

2. Drinking fountains should be shut off. This is especially necessary in public buildings, schools, workplaces, and churches.

3. If you experience significant gastrointestinal issues, and used city water in the past 48-72 hours, discuss with your health care provider. Those with compromised immune system, infants, women who are pregnant, or the elderly are at increased risk of illness from bacteria in drinking water. Symptoms of illness from E. coli exposure typically take 2-4 days to develop, but can take as many as eight days.

4. The Health Department recommends hand washing with WATER THAT HAS BEEN BOILED THEN COOLED or BOTTLED WATER for a minimum of 20 seconds, followed by using a hand sanitizer. SPONGE BATHS ARE RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN. AFTER

Frequently Asked Questions

I made food between Friday, August 30 and the time I became aware of this advisory. I used tap water to clean or prepare the food. Can I eat it?

No. The Kent County Health Department recommends throwing the food away, as it may be contaminated.

Are my drinking glasses, dishes, and eating utensils safe to use?

It depends on how they were cleaned. Dishwashers and hand washing rarely generate water that is hot enough to kill E. coli. The Kent County Health Department recommends rewashing any dishes with water that has been boiled for at least one minute, then cooled down, or bottled water. Do not use dishwashers until the advisory is lifted. Food preparation and dining areas, such as countertops and tables, should be cleaned with
disinfectant and/or boiled or bottled water.

My refrigerator has a water filter and ice maker. Is this water safe to use?

No. Water filters can't remove E.coli from tap water. Do not use any ice that your refrigerator has made in the last week. Once the advisory is lifted, make sure you allow the line to your ice maker to flush (following manufacturer's instructions), and throw out the first batch of ice it makes.

Can I wash my clothes?

Yes. Wash them in hot water and dry them on the highest setting available.

How can I wash baby/kids toys?

Infants and children tend to put toys in their mouths. Be sure to
wash any of these items with soap and bottled or boiled water.

My house is in the Rockford area, but I live on a well or pay my water bill to another municipality. Does this advisory impact me?

No. Only customers of Rockford City Water are impacted.

Can I shower?

Yes, however there are a few concerns:

Open Sores: you should not shower if you have open sores. The Kent County Health Department recommends taking a sponge bath instead. Do not use contaminated water to clean open sores.

Infants and Small Children: Parents should provide sponge baths and stay with the child at all times. Make sure the child does not get water in his or her mouth.

Following a bath or shower, you should wash your hands with soap and bottled water or water that has been boiled then cooled down. Follow that up with hand sanitizer.

Can I give my pets water?

Domesticated animals have a hardy immune system, but can get sick from contaminated water. The Kent County Health Department suggests boiling water, then cooling it, before providing it to your pets.

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