GREAT BARRINGTON — The town's water department has issued a boil water order after E. coli bacteria was detected Tuesday in a routine sample collected from the town's spring water source.

The town's distribution system, however, did not show the presence of the bacteria.

As a precaution, the Great Barrington Fire District Water Department is telling residents to only drink tap water that has been boiled for at least one minute.

Officials also warn that until the order is lifted, residents should not use tap water to brush teeth, make ice, wash dishes, or use it for food preparation with out boiling it first.

The notice also advises throwing out ice, juice, baby formula, or any food made using tap water before April 9.

Viruses and bacteria are killed by boiling water.

The Fire District says it disinfects drinking water with chlorine and that no E. coli was found in samples taken from its distribution system.

Through the town's CodeRED alert system, the Fire District told residents it was notified of the sample results on Wednesday.

E. coli is present in human and animal waste, and can cause a variety of symptoms, including diarrhea, cramps and nausea.

Ingestion of E. coli can, however, be dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, the very young and the elderly.

The Fire District said it would conduct more testing, and that the public would be notified when the boil water order is lifted, and that it is working on the issue with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

More information can be found on the Fire District's website,, or by calling, 413-528-0133. Also, MassDEP has more about boil water orders at:

Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871