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Update on Boiled Water Order for Town of Reading

UPDATE Boil Water Order

POSTED ON: NOVEMBER 2, 2019 - 2:14PM


One Sample of Reading Water Tested Positive for E. coli


** UPDATE 2:10PM – PLEASE NOTE: The Town will have a limited bottled water distribution from Noon until 4PM tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 3, at the Department of Public Works facility located at 75 New Crossing Road. The Reading Public School System is prepared to open Monday morning with bottled water for the students and staff.  The next expected update is Monday morning according to Mass DEP testing protocols.  Updates will follow if there are any changes to the schedule.

(READING, MA – NOVEMBER 2, 2019) The Reading Water Department recently detected E.coli bacteria in drinking water at a building at 295 Salem Street in Reading.  As our customers, you have a right to know what happened and what we are doing to correct this situation. On October 31, 2019 Reading collected routine samples at 10 locations throughout Reading. One sample from 295 Salem Street has tested positive for E. coli. Follow-up sampling confirmed the presence of bacteria. These bacteria can make you sick, and are a particular concern for people with weakened immune systems.  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.

What should I do? What does this mean?



Bring all water to a rolling boil and let it boil for at least one (1) minute or use bottled water.  You may cool the boiled water before using.  Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, food preparation, pets, brushing teeth and washing dishes until further notice.  Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. 

  • Refer to the attached notice for additional precautions you may take.  This information is also located on the MassDEP website:

Consumer Information on Boil Orders

Boil Order Frequently Asked Questions

  • Discard all ice, beverages, uncooked foods, and formula made with tap water collected on or after October 31, 2019.
  • It IS OK to wash hands with soap, wash laundry with detergent, and shower as long as you don’t consume the water or get it in your eyes.
  • Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
  • The symptoms above are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

What is being done?

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was notified of the positive results, and the MWRA and the Town of Reading is investigating what caused the E. coli positive samples. Another set of water samples for the whole town were immediately collected on November 1, 2019 per specific DEP protocol. Sites upstream and downstream tested clean, however the initial site retested positive for a low level of coliform bacteria. Further samples will again be collected, and we will inform the public when the boil water order is lifted.  For precautionary measures and by MassDEP Regulation Reading will maintain the Boil Order until at least Monday morning November 4, 2019.

For more information, please contact the Reading Water Operations Center at (781) 942-6663 or check the Town website for updates at: You may also follow up for further information with Reading’s Water Quality Supply Coordinator, Erik Mysliwy via email at or write to the Water Division at Reading DPW: Water Division, 16 Lowell St., Reading, MA 01867.  A separate message will be sent out from the Reading Public Schools about any expected impact on the school district.

General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791, or by visiting the DEP website at:

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or by distributing copies by hand or mail.

This notice is being sent to you by the Reading Water Department. PWS ID# 3246000

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