By Kati Weis

UPDATE: Englewood’s Boil Water Advisory Lifted On Friday

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – All morning and afternoon Thursday, people were driving by the Englewood Civic Center for free bottles of water, following a boil water notice issued Wednesday afternoon. In some parts of the city, also called “Zone 1,” the health department says the water may not be safe to drink, due to positive E. coli samples found in the tap water of a home in southeast Englewood.

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(credit: City of Englewood)

According to a state health department email to the City of Englewood, obtained by CBS4 Investigates, a water sample taken on Monday, Aug. 2, had a positive E. coli result. The positive result was discovered on Tuesday, meaning there has been knowledge of the result for two days.

The city water utility is still investigating the cause, but has said there are a number of possibilities, including broken pipes, a backflow event or failure in the water treatment process.

While they are investigating, they’ll also be flushing the entire system.

(credit: CBS)

“I feel like I’m living in Detroit, or a third-world country or something,” said resident Coral Yuen, who was driving by to pick up bottles of water Thursday.

State health department documents show repeat samples confirmed the positive result on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s concerning,” said resident Luke McGrath. “How long has it been going on; there’s been a lack of information.”

(credit: CBS)

The last time the utility had a bacteria contamination violation was back in 2012, according to Environmental Protection Agency records.

Documents also show the water utility was recently found to be in violation for failing to maintain inspection plans for its water storage tanks, and for issues with its backflow testing.

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Officials say a backflow event is one possible cause of the E. coli contamination, however city officials say of the violation and the E. coli incident, “the two issues are independent of each other.”

Read Englewood Water’s 2021 Water Quality Report Here

“The compliance ratio violation was for commercial backflow prevention self-reporting in 2020. The city is currently in compliance with its backflow prevention compliance ratio,” said a spokesperson with the city water division. “The boil water notice resulted from a single sample site from a residential customer.”

Some residents say Englewood’s water has always smelled and tasted bad, but this incident puts the icing on the cake.

“Not very good,” said McGrath. “Fortunately, we drink a lot of bottled water, but not always, so you don’t know, did you get it then, did you get it another time?”

Some people are also concerned about the aging infrastructure in Englewood, wondering if that’s played a part. The city says it’s addressing aging infrastructure with its Flow it Forward program.

The city says it has performed additional samples and anticipates receiving new results on Friday morning that could allow the city to lift the boil water notice.

(credit: CBS)

The city has not said if residents will receive any discount on their water bill for the inconvenience, but a spokesperson wrote to CBS4, “the city is providing access to free water during the affected timeframe of the order. Additionally, the water is safe to drink after boiling for three minutes. The vast majority of water is still usable for lawn irrigation, clothes washing, showering, etc straight out of the tap.”

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Yuen said she hopes there’s a big discount, adding, “I’m wondering if I should just have my bill cancelled this month.”

Kati Weis