Baltimore City, County distributing water amid boil water advisory due to E. coli

Baltimore City and Baltimore County officials distributed water Tuesday amid a boil-water advisory due to E. coli found in water samples in west Baltimore.

Authorities on Monday issued a boil-water advisory after E. coli was found in water samples. While officials are confident the E.coli situation had nothing to do with water treatment, they still don’t know how it spread.

Where to get clean water:

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works announced Tuesday morning it will distribute water at these three locations beginning at 11 a.m. — limit 3 gallons per household.

– Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School (1401 W. Lafayette Ave.)

– Middle Branch Park (3301 Waterview Ave.)

– Lansdowne Library (500 3rd Ave.)

DPW said a water buffalo will be available at the Lansdowne Library and the Middle Branch Park locations and the DPW will provide jugs. Residents and facilities needing water are encouraged to bring their own containers.

Some residents who received water are taking the situation in stride.

“It’s a blessing whatever you get, and it’s free and you’re trying to help the community. It’s a blessing,” said Carol Simmons, a resident.

Baltimore County began distributing bottled water at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Fire Station 5 (4501 Washington Blvd., Halethorpe) but ran out of its supply by 6 p.m., at which point, those in need of water in southwest Baltimore County were advised to go to the Lansdowne Library until 8 p.m.

WBAL-TV 11 News reached out Tuesday to the DPW, where a representative said to contact the mayor’s office. A request for comment was made to the mayor’s office and this report will be updated when that is received.

What’s in the water:

During a news conference Monday night, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said the DPW received word Saturday of a possible positive test during routine testing conducted Friday.

“We were notified of a possible positive test and immediately had the specimen retested for confirmation per emergency protocol. Once DPW received that confirmation, the public was notified,” Scott said.

According to DPW officials, water was sampled in several locations and a positive test result was found at the firehouse located at 1503 W. Lafayette Ave. and two police facilities at 1034 N. Mount St. and 920 N. Carey St. Other locations within the impacted zone are being continuously tested, DPW said.

Malika Brown, president of the Cherry Hill Development Corp., told 11 News she was disappointed by how long it took the city to warn residents.

“When I woke up this morning to make breakfast, (I) turned on the water and there was no water. There was no notification. There was nothing said to the residents of Cherry Hill, and I think that’s really sad,” Brown said.

The mayor said DPW does not know the source of the contamination. City DPW Director Jason Mitchell said the E. coli did not come from wastewater treatment plants and that the department is identifying construction projects that may have caused potential impacts to the water system and is performing leak detection in the area. He also said the water is being treated with chlorine to kill the bacteria.

“The Department of Public Works takes proactive samples from 90 locations within our distribution area monthly,” Mitchell said. “We immediately contacted the Maryland Department of the Environment, our critical partners, and conducted further tests Saturday.”

The mayor said no illnesses as a result of the contaminated water have been reported as of Monday evening.

WATCH: Mayor’s news conference Monday night

Area affected by the boil water advisory:


The advisory to boil water for a minute is in effect for residents, businesses and other facilities in the Sandtown-Winchester and Harlem Park neighborhoods in west Baltimore, comprising portions of North and South Riggs Avenue, West Franklin Street and East and West Carey Street to Pulaski Street.

| LINK: CDC boil water advisory guidelines

An initial map the city DPW released included portions of Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, and suggested those areas boil their water only out of a precaution. But an Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works spokesman told 11 News: “Anne Arundel does not currently purchase any water from the city. Therefore, no Anne Arundel County public water customers need to boil water … no water from the city of Baltimore entered the Anne Arundel County public water supply system.”


The square marked on the DPW’s map is the immediate affected area, and the rest of the outlined area on the map was identified to be part of the boil-water advisory out of an abundance of caution, the mayor said.

On Tuesday, Baltimore County issued a statement, saying, in part: “While this bacteria was not detected in Baltimore County, as a precaution a boil water advisory has been extended across areas of Southwestern Baltimore County, including Arbutus, Halethorpe and Lansdowne.”

Baltimore County officials said they are working on a plan to purchase and distribute water to residents in additional locations and will share information as soon as a plan is finalized.

“(It’s) very disappointing, upsetting. We got to go through this. We pay for a water every month; we got to deal with this?” said Gil Leicher, a Baltimore County resident.

“It’s only been 24 hours and it’s already like this, and stores are bare, so it’s concerning because we don’t know how long this is going to last,” said Brandy White, a Baltimore County resident.

boil water map

Baltimore DPW via Anne Arundel County DPW

What residents in the affected area should do:

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said residents and people in the affected area should boil water for one minute and let it cool before:

– Drinking

– Brushing teeth

– Washing fruits and vegetables

– Preparing baby food and formula

– Making ice

– Giving to pets

– Washing dishes

– Food preparation

What’s being done:

The Baltimore City Office of Emergency Management said the emergency operations center will remain open and active until the boil water advisory is lifted.

The Maryland Department of Emergency Management tweeted shortly after 8:30 p.m. that it raised the state activation level to enhanced to support the city: “We are coordinating with Baltimore City and other jurisdictions and are ready to assist.”

The city set up a water distribution center at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School, handing out 1-gallon jugs. More than 1,700 gallons of water were distributed. Officials said a donation from Nestle will help in distributing water again on Tuesday.

There was no immediate indication on how long the boil-water advisory will last or whether the city will continue to distribute bottled water.

Some residents who got clean water were upset about the small amount, especially if the advisory lasts more than a day.

“(I’m) very concerned. We have the school here. Children need to drink water. We have a head start over here. Children need to drink water. They need to have water to wash their face, brush their teeth. They need water to bathe. How about bathing? One gallon per household is not going to do it,” said Yolanda Sellers, a resident.

Some residents expressed frustration because city officials did not explain how and why this happened until holding a news conference later Monday evening.

“There is E. coli in the water and it has been contaminated and we need to see why and what’s going to happen in this community,” said Ianthia Darden, a resident.

“Can I wash my clothes? No. Can I drink the water out of my refrigerator filter? No. Not safe. You shouldn’t take a chance,” said Cathy Morrell, a resident.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Phylicia Porter, D-District 10, whose district encompasses southwest and west Baltimore, is calling out what she calls a failing system, saying in a statement: “How can we expect residents of west and southwest Baltimore to continue to thrive when they are deprived of clean water, a basic human right? We cannot expect Baltimoreans to invest in the future of their city when the city does not invest in their ability to have a healthy tomorrow.”

WATCH: E. coli found in water of fire, police stations

Schools impacted by water advisory:

Baltimore City Public Schools said it will provide hand sanitizer for ?staff and students to use for all handwashing. City Schools offers nearly all schools bottled water as a standard drinking and meal preparation practice.

For schools in the primary impacted area of Harlem Park, staff and students will continue to use bottled water ?for drinking, and ?all meals ?will be prepared off-site. These schools include:

– Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School

– Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West

– Youth Opportunity

– Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts

– Career Academy

At schools in the secondary impacted area in west Baltimore, students may use water and hand sanitizer for handwashing. Most schools will continue to use bottled water. For schools that use filtered water, bottled water was delivered Tuesday, according to City Schools. Bottled water will continue to be used for drinking and meal preparation.

These schools include:

– Lakeland Elementary/Middle

– Sandtown-Winchester Achievement Academy

– Matthew A. Henson Elementary

– Dorothy I. Height Elementary

– Rosemont Elementary/Middle

– Mount Royal Elementary/Middle

– Katherine Johnson Global Academy

– Franklin Square Elementary/Middle

– The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary

– Bay-Brook Elementary/Middle

– Furman Templeton Preparatory Academy

– Booker T. Washington Middle

– Robert W. Coleman Elementary

– Billie Holiday Elementary

– Mary Ann Winterling Elementary at Bentalou

– Belmont Elementary

– Morrell Park Elementary/Middle

– Violetville Elementary/Middle

– Frederick Elementary

– Empowerment Academy

– William S. Baer School

– Midtown Academy

– New Song Academy

– Joseph Briscoe Academy

– Green Street Academy

– Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy

– Coppin Academy

– Renaissance Academy

– Frederick Douglass High

– Carver Vocational-Technical High

Baltimore County Public Schools provides bottled water to students and staff at schools in the area, and meals for those students will be prepared in facilities that are not covered by the boil water advisory.

Baltimore County Public Schools posted a statement on its website, saying: “Baltimore County Emergency Management is reporting that the area of concern for potential E. coli in Baltimore City water supply impacted by the boil water advisory includes the southwest area of Baltimore County. Southwest area schools and offices have been notified. The Department of Facilities Management will ensure adequate bottled water and hand sanitizer is available in all southwest area schools.”

Southwest area schools in Baltimore County include:

– Arbutus Elementary School

– Arbutus Middle School

– Baltimore Highland Elementary School

– Catonsville admin

– Catonsville alternative

– Catonsville Elementary School

– Catonsville Middle School

– Catonsville High School

– Chadwick Elementary School

– Dogwood Elementary School

– Edmondson Heights Elementary School

– Featherbed Lane Elementary School

– Halethorpe Elementary School

– Hebbville Elementary School

– Hillcrest Elementary School

– Johnnycake Elementary School

– Lansdowne Elementary School

– Lansdowne Middle School

– Lansdowne High School

– Maiden Choice Elementary School

– Meadowood Education Center

– Powhatan Elementary School

– Relay Elementary School

– Southwest Academy

– Westchester Elementary School

– Western Tech

– Westowne Elementary School

– Windsor Mill Middle School

– Winfield Elementary School

– Woodbridge Elementary School

– Woodlawn Middle School

– Woodlawn High School

– Woodmoor Elementary School

What is E. coli and total coliform:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, E. coli bacteria can be found in the environment, foods and intestines of people and animals. Although most strains of are harmless, others can make you sick.

Some kinds of the bacteria can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia and other illnesses, the CDC said.

The CDC defines total coliform as a group containing fecal and nonfecal coliforms that are detected in water using a standard test. The extent to which total coliforms are present in water can indicate the general quality of that water and the likelihood that the water is contaminated fecally by animal and/or human sources.

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Be safe and make sure to boil your water or consider buying a water filtration system like the AquaOx Water Filter.

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