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Wellesley College told to boil water after E.coli is found

The state issued a boil water advisory for Wellesley College on Friday covering four of the school’s buildings, including a child care center, after a water source tested positive for E. coli, town officials said.

Students and faculty were advised at 4:30 p.m. to boil water before drinking it in the affected locations -- Weston Terrace and Fiske House, two residential buildings; the Child Study Center, an academic building; and Wellesley Community Children’s Center, said Sofiya Cabalquinto, a college spokeswoman.

There were no reports of individuals getting sick from drinking the water, Cabalquinto said. The two residential buildings house faculty members, not any students, she said.

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E. coli is mostly harmless and found in the intestines of people and animals. But its presence in a water supply could indicate that the water is contaminated with feces and pathogens that cause illness, according to the website of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which issued the advisory on Friday.

Some strains of E. coli can cause severe diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and headaches. It can be especially serious for infants, young children, elderly people, and individuals with compromised immune systems.

The college’s contaminated water was detected in a water line that serves the four buildings, Cabalquinto said.

DEP deemed the water in all other locations on Wellesley’s campus safe to drink, the spokeswoman said. No dining halls or food service buildings were affected, town officials said.

“The health and safety of the college community is our top priority,” Cabalquinto said.

The college’s facilities management team, along with the Department of Environmental Protection, will be “chlorinating, flushing, and sampling” the water in the contaminated location, she added.

The water will continue to be tested throughout the weekend, and the college community will be informed as soon as the water is safe for consumption, the school said on its website.

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A two day-long boil water advisory was issued in August 2014 for the town of Wellesley after one of its water storage tanks tested positive for E. coli. Although water samples from the Pierce Hill Reservoir, where the tank was located, never tested positive for E. coli, town officials suspended use of the reservoir to ensure it was properly inspected and cleaned.

In June 2013, an E. coli outbreak in the town sickened at least three people, two seriously, with stomach distress.

This most recent contamination did not affect the town’s water supply, Wellesley officials said.


Kay Lazar and Jaclyn Reiss of the Globe Staff contributed to this story. Olivia Arnold can be reached at olivia.arnold@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @olivia_arnold12.