The Washington Post

Baltimore narrows boil water notice

- BY JENNA PORTNOY

Baltimore City officials continued searching for the source of an E. coli contaminat­ion of tap water Thursday, after a boil water advisory was lifted for a portion of the city.

Three sites tested positive for contaminat­ion over Labor Day weekend, but follow-up testing showed only one positive site remained, city officials told reporters Wednesday.

“This isn’t something that can be resolved overnight,” Mayor Brandon M. Scott (D) said in a news conference Wednesday. “We are continuing to test locations throughout the city and the surroundin­g county and will continue to do so until the issue is resolved.”

The boil water advisory remains in effect for parts of West Baltimore from North and South Riggs Avenue to West Franklin Street and from East and West Carey Street to Pulaski Avenue, officials said. The advisory south and southwest of Route 40, including a precaution­ary area in Baltimore County, has been lifted.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Wednesday said the Maryland Department of the Environmen­t is working with the Baltimore City Department of Public Works to enforce the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which sets minimum standards for water quality.

The department has had a team of engineers on-site inspecting the distributi­on system, treatment systems, pumping facilities and other infrastruc­ture, and will inspect certain treatment facilities in the affected area, he said in a statement.

“Our agencies are working around the clock to assist city officials and help ensure access to clean water,” the governor said. “We will continue to provide coordinati­on and technical assistance, and make available what resources and personnel are needed as the situation warrants.”

The affected area includes about 1,500 homes and businesses, city officials say, including the Midtown Campus of the University of Maryland Medical Center, which operates 144 inpatient beds.

Timothy Bridges, 59, vice president of Fayette Street Outreach, a nonprofit organizati­on, said he has been loading the group’s Dodge Ram 1500 truck with cases and pallets of water and delivering them to seniors.

Bridges was moved when he saw one woman in her 80s come to the door with her oxygen tank. “She couldn’t get out,” he said. “It’s just devastatin­g. That’s when our community and our neighborho­od get going.”

Bridges is reaching out to corporatio­ns with a presence in the neighborho­od for help installing filtration systems at the community center to make access to water easier should this happen again.

On Twitter, Scott thanked residents for their “patience and understand­ing.”

He added that the city will reduce water bills by 25 percent for all residents in the next billing cycle. “I understand this has been an inconvenie­nce for residents,” he said in a tweet.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works continued Thursday to distribute water at three locations — Harlem Park Elementary/middle School, 1401 W. Lafayette Ave.; Middle Branch Park, 3301 Waterview Ave.; and Baltimore County’s Lansdowne Library, 500 Third Ave. — with a limit of three gallons per household.

Older adults and homebound residents could schedule a water delivery by calling 311.

Only one site remains positive for E. coli, but source remains unclear

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