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Warning: E. Coli Found In Konawa Water

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The water problems for one Oklahoma town just won't stop flowing. The water problems for one Oklahoma town just won't stop flowing.
KONAWA, Oklahoma -

The water problems for one Oklahoma town just won't stop flowing.

Konawa residents got hit again this week with an alarming notice, forcing residents there to reach their boiling point.

The city posted flyers on mailboxes and on several businesses downtown warning people that E. coli bacteria was found in the Konawa PWA water system on August 4.

“It's frustrating because I don't even want to touch the water,” said Shirley Crawford, a longtime Konawa resident.

Crawford said this latest notice is not surprising because she never knows what she’s going to get when she turns on the faucet.

“It’s a guessing game if we’re going to have water or not or if it’s safe,” she said.

Water issues have plagued the city for years - from problems with pipes and pumps shutting off the system to dangerous chemicals contaminating the water.

10/16/2013 Related Story: Water Problems Flow Yet Again For Konawa Residents

Now, this latest issue of E. coli is especially troubling for Crawford, who works for a mental health facility which houses 50 residents.

“We taking all the precautions to make sure they are safe,” Crawford said. “But I’m scared for people with problems with their immune system, I mean; I’m scared for the babies in this community.”

The water is crucial, said Konawa resident Ricky Smith.

But Smith says to get it, like Crawford, he has to buy it, haul it in or boil it -- a task that has become all too commonplace for the people who depend on city water.

“Nobody wants to have any water you can’t even take a bath in because you’re having sewage and human waste getting into the water,” he said.

So concerning, local businesses like Sonic have closed until further notice. At McClure’s, a popular lunchtime spot – the store is still open but the contaminated water is hurting business.

“We weren’t able to serve any Mexican food like our lunchtime we do, no deli food, not able to do our fountain drinks or teas, lemonade, anything,” said Elisabeth Morris, an employee at McClure’s. “Unfortunately the business has taken a hit from it because that’s where a lot of the profit comes from.”

A hit that seems people in Konawa can’t shut off.

“This has been going on for way too long and it needs to stop,” Crawford said.

The city is working with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

In the meantime, residents who use city water are warned to boil the water to a full rolling boil for one minute, and then let it cool before using it to drink, prepare food, make ice, brush teeth, wash dishes, bath infants, and clean wounds or make baby formula.

The public notice states fecal coliforms and E. coli bacteria found in water indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects like diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. The contamination can especially be concerning for infants, young children, some elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.

While it’s unknown why the water was contaminated, the city’s notice states “bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source, for example, following heavy rains. It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process.

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