NAPLES, Italy — The Navy recently began posting signs around the Gricignano support site informing residents not to drink the water used to irrigate the base.

Water testing completed last summer showed many of the base wells contained radiation, nitrates and total and fecal coliform bacteria that exceed maximum contamination levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The signs weren’t posted sooner because the contamination didn’t pose an immediate health threat, said Cmdr. Jeff McAtee, a spokesman for the Navy’s health assessment.

But “some kids were drinking the sprinkler water,” Francesco Coppola, managing director for Mirabella S.G., said of the reason the Navy is posting the warning signs. The Navy leases the base from Mirabella. “They wanted to let residents know not to drink from the sprinklers.”

Contamination levels, however, are not high enough to pose health risks to people either walking through those areas or playing in sprinklers, Dr. (Cmdr.) Timothy Halenkamp, occupational and environmental medicine specialist in Naples, said in May.

In all, 40 signs are being posted on pavilions and poles around the support site, but some residents say they have yet to see them.

“I haven’t seen any signs about potable water,” said Lt. Cmdr. Trisha Francis. “And people who aren’t in the military may not understand what ‘potable’ means.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Fledderman, who said he hadn’t seen the signs either, agrees.

“Why don’t they just say the water’s contaminated? That would get people’s attention.”

The support site includes nearly 1,000 family housing units, along with almost 150 barracks rooms, schools and a day-care center. The tap water on base is safe to drink, officials said.

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