Union County Public Works issued a boil water advisory Thursday due to a water sample from one location showing the presence of E. coli. Union County Public Schools announced school would be canceled for Friday.
The advisory applies only to those who receive their water from the county and not water customers with the city of Monroe or the towns of Wingate, Marshville, Unionville or Fairview, according to officials.
Friday is an optional workday for Union County Public Schools’ staff but all school and athletic events are canceled.
“The advisory is impacting the majority of our schools and we do not anticipate receiving the all clear from Union County Government until tomorrow,” a school district statement said late Thursday.
The E. coli was detected during a routine test when a sample was collected near the intersection of U.S. 74 and Gray Fox Road in Indian Trail on Monday, according to a statement from Union County.
Public Works, upon notification on late Tuesday, conducted a second sample at the same location and 11 additional samples in the area, officials said. While the second sample tested negative for E. coli, two samples from the additional testing showed the presence of total coliform, which is not E. coli but can indicate the presence of pathogens, the statement said.
“Customers should expect to remain under the Boil Water Advisory at least through Friday evening. Customers will be directly notified of updates through the email and phone number associated with their account.”
The presence of the bacteria can indicate contamination of fecal material and a boil water advisory is the standard response required by N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, according to Peter Hovanec, spokesman for the city of Monroe.
The water is safe in some towns and cities
While Union County is working with state agencies on quality control measures, water received through the City of Monroe is safe to drink, Hovanec said.
The towns of Wingate, Marshville, Unionville and Fairview are also unaffected, said Union County spokeswoman Liz Cooper.
According to officials, Monroe receives drinking water from three lakes — Twitty, Lee and Monroe — and can receive water from the county system during the summer’s peak demand. However, Monroe has not received county water in recent weeks, officials said.
“The health and safety of our residents is our top priority,” said a statement on the Union County website.
Water customers in Unionville, Fairview and Wingate are serviced by the water distribution system that provides water from Anson County, Cooper said.
Boil advisory tips
Union County recommends those under the boil water advisory to boil their water for at least one minute, starting from when a steady stream of “bubbles pop from the bottom of the pot.” According to its list of frequently asked questions about boil water advisories, boiling water ensures that disease-causing parasites, viruses and bacteria are destroyed.
Healthy individuals can also take a shower and use tap water to wash hands unless it is to prepare food.