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E. coli found in Mansfield drinking water; residents told to boil water

Foxboro residents who receive water from Mansfield should take action as well.

E. coli can make people sick, and is especially dangerous for those with weakened immune systems. Wendy Maeda/Boston Globe

Residents of Mansfield and Foxboro are being advised to boil their tap water before consuming it due to the presence of E. coli bacteria, town officials said Sunday. 

The boil water notification applies to residents of the two towns that are served by the Mansfield Water Division. This applies to the majority of Mansfield residents. Residents that live on Balcom Street from Justin Drive to Gilbert Street, excluding Martha’s Way, and all of Bungay Street do not need to boil their water, as drinking water for these areas comes from Attleboro. 

Foxboro residents who receive water from Mansfield should take action as well. The warning applies to residents of East Belcher Road from the landfill to Spring Street, residents of Spring Street from East Belcher Road to the Town Line, residents of Souza Avenue, residents of Barros Lane, and residents of 131 Morse St. 

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Town staff will be hosting free water handout stations for Mansfield residents at the Mansfield Department of Public Works Complex, located at 500 East street beginning Sunday. This will be open Sunday until 6 p.m., as well as from 2 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Residents should bring a form of identification to verify that they live in Mansfield, the town said. This could include a driver’s license, vehicle registration, lease agreement, or utility bill. 

E. coli bacteria was initially found in the water supply from a sample collected last Wednesday, Mansfield officials said. The town was notified of the positive sample on Friday, before relaying that information to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Three repeat samples were also collected on Friday. On Saturday, lab results were returned to the town that confirmed a “Maximum Contaminant Level violation,” leading to Sunday’s announcement. 

Contamination like this can be caused by increased run-off entering the water system, which sometimes happens after heavy rains. A break in the pipe system or a failure in the water treatment process can also cause contamination, according to a notification from the town of Mansfield.

In response to these findings, town staff increased chlorine levels at all treatment plants. Mansfield will work with MassDEP officials to investigate further and conduct resampling in the coming days. The town said it anticipates solving the problem by Friday, Sept. 16. However, residents should await further notification from the town later this week to confirm that harmful amounts of bacteria aren’t found. 

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Officials are directing residents to the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 for specific guidance. 

Residents should bring all water to a boil, and let it boil for at least one minute before using. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice, the town said. Residents should discard any ice, beverages, formula, and uncooked foods that were prepared with water from the public water system on or after Sept. 7. If preparing a large volume of water, at a restaurant for example, people should boil their water for five minutes. 

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