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Source of water contamination determined

ESCONDIDO — Officials from the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District have determined the source of the water supply contamination that resulted in the boil alert, which started on Aug. 15.

Four weeks ago, a fire hydrant near Nutmeg Street was sheared off and a small amount of “soil-related organic matter” made it into the pipe system, near the water sampling station, according to Julia Escamilla, public services information officer of the water district.

“This organic matter has since been flushed from the system,” said Escamilla.

About 6,300 homes and businesses were affected for a 48-hour period starting Aug. 15. Residents were told to boil their tap water for five minutes before drinking or cooking with it.

About 60 more homes were forced to spend a few more days without drinkable tap water while officials did more testing.

The Coliform bacterium is not harmful itself, but it is often an indicator that more harmful bacteria, like E.coli, may be present.

Officials did not find any E.Coli, or other harmful bacteria.

The contaminated water affected Palomar Medical Center. No health issues arose from the tap water, said Bobette Brown, media relations manager for the hospital.

The hospital shut off the tap water during the weekend and sanitized all of the ice machines, water dispensers, coffee makers and eye washing stations once the water was safe to use again.

The water district has never had to issue a boil alert in its 60-year history.

The cost of the boil alert is still being determined, according to Escamilla.

Officials alerted residents and businesses through phone calls and home visits.