Cape Coral rescinds its citywide boil water notice after retests show no E. coli

The city of Cape Coral has received clearance from the Health Department to rescind the citywide boil water notice issued Monday.

According to a news release Tuesday afternoon, repeat samples confirmed Cape Coral city water is not contaminated, and no further precautions are needed.

The city of Cape Coral had issued a boil water notice after bacteria, including E. coli, was found in the city's water supply during routine random sampling at two spots.

The citywide boil water notice was done out of an abundance of caution to strictly follow federal and state laws on monitoring water contaminants, the city said in the news release.

Previous coverage: Cape Coral issues boil water notice after positive tests for E. coli

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Timeline of events

The city on a monthly basis collects 120 samples throughout Cape Coral that test the quality of its drinking water system and look for a variety of specific bacteria.

According to City Manager Rob Hernandez, the city tested a site near Rotary Park in South Cape Coral on Sept.7.

Twenty-four hours later, the results of the Rotary Park test showed the water was positive for total coliform, an indicator of other pathogens for drinking water, but not positive for E. coli.

Because the city got a positive, they were required to do additional testing in locations surrounding the dog park Sept. 8.

At another location near Rotary Park, the test results indicated the presence of both total coliform and E. coli.

The Lee County Health Department was notified and because of the two positive tests, the department instructed the city to issue a mandatory boil water notice for anyone receiving water through the city's utility system.

City officials said Monday the city flushed the affected parts of the water system and that it could take up to 72 hours to resolve the boil water notice.

"The test results are isolated to a very small area of the city in the proximity of Rotary Park and specifically in close proximity to the dog park," Hernandez said at a Monday news conference.

He also said the positive readings came from outdoor locations, not from inside a resident's home.

The city sent emails and posted on social media about the boil water notice, using the Lee County Emergency Management notification system to send out 83,000 alerts to utility customers.

What caused this?

City officials do not know exactly how this happened.

Jeff Pearson, Cape Coral utilities director, said it could potentially just be a bad sample.

"It could have happened at the lab. It could have happened with the person who took the sample," Pearson said at Monday's news conference. "We have no information that there's any problem with the drinking water at this time, other than we've got a couple of bad samples."

Hernandez said the total coliform and E. coli could have gotten into the water through "cross-contamination" or by heavy rains.

How Lee Schools responded

The Lee School District took steps Tuesday to deal with the boil water notice in Cape Coral, according to Rob Spicker, the school district spokesman.

To ensure water safety, the school district:

  • Delivered water bottles to every school for students and staff.

  • Made hand sanitizer available at every school.

  • Posted signs indicating that city water should not be consumed.

  • School cafeteria staff followed boil notice procedures to ensure food was safe for consumption.

  • All meals were served as usual.

Luis Zambrano is a Watchdog/Cape Coral reporter for The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. You can reach Luis at Follow him on Twitter @Lz2official.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Boil water notice across Cape Coral lifted after E. coli not found