GREENSBORO, N.C. — On Wednesday morning, a water sample from a station located at Bessemer Avenue and Huffine Mill Road tested positive for E. coli.
That area’s water system has been isolated from the city’s system and temporary water lines were built to redirect water to 2 schools and 13 homes in the 900 block of Huffine Mill Road.
Guilford County Schools has since called off school for Bessemer Elementary School and Gateway Education Center for Thursday though teachers are expected to be there. This is out of an abundance of caution, the school system said. The schools are expected to reopen for students on Friday.
Greensboro water leaders said there has been no indication from the school district that the campuses have seen a spike in sick kids or adults.
Following state regulations, confirmation testing is taking place according to standard protocols. Customers located in the area have been notified.
City crews are continuing to sample water from this area and are working with the Guilford County Health Department and NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Steven Drew, water resources director for the City of Greensboro, said he believes the next test the city gets Thursday afternoon will be negative for E. coli.
“We believe this is an anomaly and when these things happen they usually are so it could be a sampling error,” said Drew. “There could be other contaminants that got up in the valve.”
City Water Resources officials said they are confident this occurrence is isolated to the one localized area. Drew said sampling at that test location happens monthly. Also, the spot that tested positive is one of four in the area tested recently and it’s the only area that showed signs of E. coli.
Neighbors who live across the street from the schools said they’ve had issues with the water for years. Some complained about the brown color of the water that sometimes comes out.
More recently though, some neighbors have complained about a rash of stomach aches and flu-like symptoms over the last two months. Joey Clark said he switched from tap water to bottled water and his stomach problems have gotten better.
“We all need to have safe water,” said Clark.
According to the Mayo Clinic, E. coli symptoms include severe cramps and diarrhea. It’s also a leading cause for bloody diarrhea. The bacteria is usually effects children, the elderly and people who are already sick the most.