Support our mission

NAPLES, Italy — Landlords in the Naples region whose homes tested positive for coliform bacteria must fix the problem or the Navy will consider removing their homes from the database of places available for rent by U.S. sailors, an official said Friday.

Experts found traces of total and fecal coliform bacteria in 48 of 160 houses tested during the first phase of a U.S. Navy-sponsored health study in Naples.

The Navy is in the process of informing the landlords and suggesting ways for them to mitigate the problems, according to Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, spokeswoman for Navy Region Europe.

No time line has been set since some of the recommended solutions could be time-intensive, such as switching from well water to city water, Snyder said in an interview.

The American tenants can stay in those houses if they chose since the Navy’s recommended strategy of switching to bottled water for cooking, drinking and even brushing teeth is enough to mitigate adverse health effects associated with consuming the contaminated water, she said.

The Navy began notifying the landlords after follow-on tests of the 48 houses confirmed the presence of the coliform bacteria, said Cmdr. Jeff McAtee, Navy Region Europe’s health assessment spokesman. Towns with the presence of coliform bacteria in tap water include Caserta, Casal di Principe, Casapesenna, Gricignano d’Aversa, Pozzuoli, San Maria Capua Vetere, San Cipriano D’Aversa, Villa di Briano and Villa Literno.

Landlords were given these four recommendations:

Clean and disinfect any tanks, piping and wells in the rental unit’s tap water system; flush the system thoroughly after decontamination.If drinking water in the home comes from a well, consider disconnecting the well and connecting to a city water system.If drinking water in the home comes from city water, but is supplemented by a well, consider promptly disconnecting the well.All openings to water tanks and piping should be screened to prevent animal infestation. All vents should be oriented downward to prevent runoff contamination.Health and environmental experts selected the Phase I houses from 469 questionnaires filled out and returned by off-base residents. Roughly 1,800 off-base houses make up the housing office’s database of available properties for lease.

Total coliform bacteria occur naturally in the environment and are generally harmless. Fecal coliform bacteria typically are found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, including humans, and the presence of fecal coliform in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination, according to the national Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

Sources of bacteria in the Naples-bases houses likely came from improperly cleaned and/or maintained home tank systems and wells, according to health assessment update posted to the command’s official Web site,

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up