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Claremont Lifts Boil Water Order

Claremont — The boil water order for the city was lifted yesterday after it was determined that the E.coli bacteria that was detected during routine testing of the water system was isolated to Washington Street business where the positive test was recorded earlier this week.

The city got the green light to lift the boil order from the state’s Department of Environmental Services.

“We know it was at the site because we tested on either side and those tests were clean,” Public Works Director Bruce Temple said at a news conference in city hall.

The E.coli, a common bacterium that can sometime cause severe food poisoning, was in a sample collected at a business at the east end of Washington Street on Tuesday. The city collects samples twice a month at five locations for testing by an independent lab.

The boil order was issued by DES 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, as soon as the test results became available. The city sent notification to news outlets 15 minutes after the ban was lifted.

Temple said the source of the E.coli contamination was not identified. Earlier this week, a DES engineer had said it’s unlikely the source will ever be known.

“It could have been a bad test or something of that sort,” Temple said yesterday.

The ban forced businesses, particularly restaurants, to either stop serving customers completely or find alternatives to tap water. Justin Drake, public relations manager with Dunkin Donuts in Canton, Mass., said in an email that the chain’s three Claremont locations, had coffee delivered from outside the affected area.

Other businesses interviewed this week said they brought in bottled water to meet their needs. The city’s schools shut off all water and brought in bottled water.

City Manager Guy Santagate praised the department heads — Fire Chief Rick Bergeron, Police Chief Alex Scott, Temple and Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill — for their efforts informing the public about the situation.

“It was great work by the department heads given the tools we had at our disposal,” he said.

Santagate said there were some complaints from residents who did not get the official word from the city but instead heard it from other sources. The state requires cities and towns to notify residents within 24 hours; the city put out the notice in about four hours.

“It is tough to do it so everyone hears at once. That is one thing I learned,” he said. “The best fix for that is reverse 911. It would be a great tool to have.”

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Santagate said they will have a discussion about spending money for the system, which the school district has in place and used to notify families of the boil water order. The system sent an automated voice message simultaneously to all families telling them of the DES order and explaining that drinking fountains and sinks had been disconnected at all schools.

Chief Scott said a reverse 911 phone system does not always have to involve emergencies but can also be used for other important announcements from the city.

Chief Bergeron said this week that the system costs between $8,000 and $10,000.

The city may be able to gain similar capabilities by connecting, at no charge, to the state’s 911 communications system, which is slated to go online soon, but there are limitations.

“If there were a statewide emergency, the system would be overtaxed immediately,” said the fire chief.

The police chief also said use would be limited to emergencies with the state system, meaning other announcements could not be sent.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.

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