Coliform bacteria, E. coli detected in Alconbury water supply
October 7, 2006
RAF ALCONBURY, England — Residents are being warned to boil their tap water or stick to the bottled variety after coliform bacteria and E. coli were detected Wednesday during a random test of the base’s water supply.
There have been no health issues in connection with the contamination, according to a release sent out Friday.
Public affairs personnel at the base did not return calls for comment on Friday.
While the source of the contamination hadn’t been discovered as of Friday afternoon, Col. Jack Jones, 423rd Air Base Group commander, said in the release that “no suspicious or malicious activity is suspected at this time.”
“The actions being taken are simply precautionary measures to make sure we act in the most conservative and prudent way,” he said, according to the release.
Those actions included a public notification program that began on Wednesday night, when flyers were distributed door-to-door at military housing and a base wide e-mail was sent out.
While no end to the contamination was announced in Friday’s release, base engineers were flushing the water system throughout the base and have added more chlorine to help eliminate the problem, the release states.
Base medical staff have set up an information booth at Alconbury’s community center to address people’s concerns, and a hot line has also been set up that residents can call during the holiday weekend. The release did not state the hotline number.
According to the release, E. coli in drinking water “is not an uncommon occurrence.”
While manifesting itself in different forms, E. coli is the bacteria that has been found stateside in prepackaged spinach in the past months.
Symptoms of E.coli poisoning can include bloody diarrhea, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.
Symptoms for E.coli and coliform can also include cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site.
According to the EPA, the presence of coliform bacteria and E. coli “indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes.”