Guam EPA issues a boil water notice for Mangilao and Barrigada

01 August 2014

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency (Guam EPA) today issued a boil water notice for the villages of Barrigada and Mangilao. This notice will be in effect until at least Monday.

Residents in Barrigada and Mangilao should only use their tap water for laundry and flushing the toilet. Water is not suitable for drinking, showering, brushing teeth, food preparation or cooking. To use drinking water safely, residents should heat the water to a constant boil for a minimum of five minutes. Boiling water kills any bacteria or organisms in the water.

Guam EPA will continue to test the drinking water in Mangilao and Barrigada every day, until the samples return without E. coli or total coliform for two consecutive days. Guam EPA will provide daily updates throughout the weekend via the Agency’s website epa.guam.gov.

“Guam EPA will make sure that GWA immediately begins corrective measures to ensure the delivery of safe and clean water to to the entire community,” Guam EPA Administrator Eric M. Palacios said. “We are working closely with GWA to monitor the water system and drinking water supply. GWA staff have been out in the field with our inspectors and engineers at numerous wells and wastewater lift stations throughout the past two days.”

Right after Tropical Storm Halong’s passage, Guam EPA tested the entire island’s drinking water for harmful bacteria. Samples collected in Mangilao tested positive for E. coli and those collected in Barrigada had total coliform.

“As a result of Tropical Storm Halong, several weak points in GWA’s infrastructure were revealed,” Palacios added. “We are concerned about those weaknesses and will be working with GWA to see they are corrected.”

Seek medical advice if experiencing symptoms
Coliforms and E. coli are bacteria, whose presence indicates the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. These pathogens may pose a special risk for infants, young children and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Residents that experience any of the noted symptoms may want to seek medical advice.

Two schools also issued boil water notices; Villages not affected
Southern High and John F. Kennedy High Schools were also issued boil water notices. These campuses have internal water infrastructure, and their notices are not applied to their respective villages. Superintendent Jon Fernandez reports these notices should not affect students, or Monday’s Summer School graduation.

“As we clean up after Tropical Storm Halong and prepare for the opening of the new school year we appreciate the efforts of Guam EPA in ensuring the health and safety of our students,” Fernandez said. “We will continue to work closely with Guam EPA and GWA as we address the situation.”

Guam EPA is working closely with the Guam Waterworks Authority (GWA) and the Guam Department of Education (DOE) to determine the source of the contamination. These agencies will collaborate to make the necessary repairs that will return drinking water in these villages and schools to a safe state.

For more information about the advisory or to arrange an interview contact Guam EPA’s Public Information Officer Tammy Jo Anderson Taft at 300-4761, 988-7582 or email at TammyJoAnderson.Taft@epa.guam.gov.