E. coli found in Hazy Hill water supply

TRAVIS COUNTY (KXAN) – Residents of the Hazy Hill community, a small residential area off State Highway 71 near Spicewood, learned E. coli was found in their water system two days after the test came back positive.

Gulf Utility Service Inc., the Houston-based company responsible for supplying the water, sent a note to residents dated March 23.  Most residents received the letter the following day and were using contaminated water without knowing it.

E. coli or Escherichia coli bacteria , according to the Mayo Clinic, normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Most varieties of E. coli are harmless or cause relatively brief diarrhea.

But a few particularly nasty strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Healthy adults usually recover from infection with E. coli O157:H7 within a week, but young children and older adults can develop a life-threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The letter told residents a water well tested positive for E. Coli on March 22 and warned the bacteria could make a person sick and be lethal to children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

According to the letter, the well was immediately disinfected and would be returned to service at some point.

“The water smells like bleach now,” explained resident Jessica Bryant, who contacted KXAN through the ReportIt app. Bryant has been using distilled water to brush her teeth, wash dishes and bathe.

The letter goes on to ask residents to “please share this information with all 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 distributing copies by hand or mail.”

Bryant said she is still not sure if her water is now safe to drink or use.

Signs and symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infections typically begin three or four days after exposure to the bacteria, though you may become ill as soon as one day afterward to more than a week later.

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