LOVINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – The state is telling residents of Lea County they should boil their water before using it. The New Mexico Environment Department says they found E. coli in drinking water samples from the Lovington Municipal Water Supply. NMED reports that the Lovington Municipal Water Supply was required to issue the advisory on January 24 after E. coli was confirmed in drinking water samples from the water system’s distribution system.

The department states that say that the water supply serves 13,231 residents and that this advisory only applies to anyone served by the Lovington Municipal Water Supply. Lovington Municipal Water Supply users are advised to boil water for three minutes before the following tasks:

  • Drinking
  • Making coffee, tea and other drinks
  • Making ice
  • Cooking
  • Washing fruits and vegetables Using the water to feed a baby Brushing teeth
  • Providing drinking water for pets

NMED states that the presence of E. coli indicates that the water may have been in contact with sewage or animal waste and could contain disease-causing organisms. While most strains of E. coli are said to be harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, a positive test for E. coli in the drinking water may indicate the presence of dangerous strains of the bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.

The department reports that these types of organisms may cause severe gastrointestinal illness and in rare cases death. Those who are at an increased risk of illness include children, the elderly, and immuno-compromised individuals.