NewsLocal News


'First concern is the public': DPW retests contaminated water while clean water provided to residents affected

'First concern is the public': DPW retesting contaminated water as City provides water to residents
Posted at 10:42 PM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 17:47:09-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City leaders and City health leaders held a press conference Monday night to let community members know they are working to get them clean water.

Baltimore’s Department of Public Works reported E. Coli was found in tested water samples in several locations in the Harlem Park and Sandtown communities in West Baltimore.

“Our first concern is the public,” said Jason Mitchell, Director of the Department of Public Works.

DPW started retesting the water for the bacteria on Monday.

It takes about 24 hours for the tests to come back.

Baltimore leaders provide update on contaminated water

In the meantime, health officials are asking residents impacted to boil water for at least one minute to kill the bacteria.

“The health and safety of our residents is of the utmost importance,” Health Department Director Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said. “Our key recommendation as a public health standpoint is to boil water for at least one minute. We know that boiling water kills bacteria, as well as other viruses.”

DPW said they take samples from 90 locations across the city month, in total of 360 samples.

On Friday, 19 samples were taken, and one of the locations on Sandtown and Harlem, at Fire Engine 8 on W. Lafayette, tested positive.

Then, on Saturday, it was confirmed that the police stations on N. Mount Street and N. Carey Street tested positive.

MORE: DPW finds E. Coli in water in several locations throughout Baltimore

Screen Shot 2022-09-05 at 6.29.29 PM.png

Officials are investigating the cause.

“We are surveying and sampling other locations within the impacted zone but we also are testing locations that tested negative, but we want to retest them, and that work is commencing right now,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said DPW is identifying construction sites as possible causes of impact.

“We are identifying construction sites that may have caused potential impacts to our water system,” Mitchell said. “We are performing leak detection in the area as well. We are performing live checks and checking chlorine levels, as well.”

DPW finds E. Coli in water in several locations throughout Baltimore

Since the announcement of water contamination in Baltimore City, City officials have started distributing water to those impacted, and informed residents in the community.

The water contamination impacts about 1,500 residential and commercial facilities.

DPW said the team is flushing the system and performing leak detection, valve assessments, and increasing the chlorination in the area.

Mitchell said he is confident the positive test results are associated with the three water treatment plants.

“At this time, we do not know the source of the contamination, but I can assure you that we are working actively to determine the exact extent of the issue, identify the source and resume the delivery of clean water to our residents in the impacted area,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said.

On Tuesday, with a donation from Nestle, officials will be out distributing more water to residents in the impacted areas.

There will be a water distribution center at Harlem Park Middle School.

On Monday, 1,700 gallons of water were handed out to those impacted.

“We are taking this issue seriously,” Mayor Scott said. “This is why we are here with a full operation of our Emergency Operations Center. We understand deeply the concerns of residents and we want to assure them that their health and well-being are our first priority.”

As a precaution, DPW has issued a Boil Water Advisory for residents, businesses, and other facilities in portions of West Baltimore.

This advisory affects about 1,500 people in the following areas:

  • North-South
  • Riggs Avenue to West Franklin Street and East-West
  • Carey Street to Pulaski Street
  • Bolton Hill
  • Harlem Park neighborhood

The City of Baltimore has notified City Schools of a water quality issue affecting the Harlem Park neighborhood. To ensure the health and safety of students and out of an abundance of caution, City Schools will provide hand sanitizer for staff and students to use for all handwashing, staff, and students will continue to use bottled water for drinking, and all meals will be prepared off-site for the following schools:

  • Furman Templeton Preparatory Academy
  • Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School
  • Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West
  • Frederick Elementary School
  • Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts
  • Career Academy