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Wellesley rescinds boil-water order for E.coli threat

Much to the relief of the town’s residents, an order to boil water in Wellesley was lifted at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, after about two days, police and town officials said in a statement.

Wellesley resident Barry Braunstein said in a telephone interview that although the boil-water order was not awful to contend with, heating up pots of water and making trips to Costco for bottled liquids was tiring.

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“It’s been inconvenient. I wouldn’t say it’s been terrible,” he said. “Given the alternative of contracting E. coli, it’s not that bad.”

According to the statement, Wellesley’s water department and the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority will continue to investigate the cause of the positive E. coli test for a water storage tank, which spurred the order Thursday.

Braunstein said that his wife and two teenage daughters have vacationed in areas of Mexico where the water is not trusted by tourists. They had an idea about what to do — from brushing their teeth with bottled water to carefully showering, lips sealed taut against the water.

He also praised town officials for handling the issue quickly and using several different means of communicating updates to residents.

As an engineer who works from home, Braunstein said he liked that the town sent subscribers an e-mail notifying them of the boil-water order with suggestions for how to deal with the problem.

He said that within an hour of the ban’s lifting, his household also received a “robo-call” from the police letting them know the water was safe.

Residents began receiving these “reverse 911” calls almost immediately after the ban was lifted, Wellesley police said.

Officials recommend that residents flush out cold water faucets for at least a minute and rinse out warm water faucets for a minimum of 15 minutes for homes with a typical 40-gallon water tank. Bigger tanks should leave faucets running for at least 30 minutes, officials said in a statement.

Residents are also encouraged to run dishwashers empty for one cycle; clean refrigerator water dispensers by running at least a quart of water through the machine; and protect ice-makers from lingering contaminants by running a 24-hour cycle that includes purging all leftover ice, the statement said.

Although water samples from Pierce Hill Reservoir — where the tank is located — never tested positive for E. coli, the statement said town officials decided to suspend the reservoir’s use while it is drained to allow for further inspection and cleaning.

“The water system in the area has been flushed extensively and further testing of the water has not yielded any further positive E. coli tests,” the statement said.

Michael Pakstis, director of the town’s Department of Public Works, told the Globe Thursday that testing the contaminated tank was “a little more difficult” because of its underground location.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at alyssa.creamer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lisacreamer.
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