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DPW test shows no traces of parasite in reservoir, but Baltimore-area residents still urged to take precautions

DPW awaiting water test results on parasite as Baltimore-area residents continue precautions
DPW awaiting water test results on parasite as Baltimore-area residents continue precautions 02:24

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore's Department of Public Works found no traces of Cryptosporidium oocysts in the Druid Lake Reservoir.

Last week, the microscopic parasite was detected in the reservoir, prompting officials to warn about the drinking water that could possibly sicken some vulnerable populations in parts of Baltimore, Baltimore County, and Howard County.

On Thursday, Sept. 28 DPW announced that it had discovered low levels (0.09 Cryptosporidium Oocyst/Liter) of the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium during a routine test of the Druid Lake Reservoir. 

The levels of Cryptosporidium detected in the water supply indicated a low risk for the general population. Cryptosporidium is a microorganism commonly found in lakes and rivers, which can potentially cause gastrointestinal problems, particularly, in those who are immunocompromised.

Although the water remains safe for the general public to consume, at this time out of an abundance of caution, the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Department of the Environment advises people with severely weakened immune systems to continue to:

  • Drink bottled water, OR
  • Boil water for one minute before consuming, OR
  • Filter tap water using a filter labeled to ANSI/NSF 53 or 58 standards, or a filter designed to remove objects 1 micron or larger. These may be labeled "absolute 1 micron." (i.e., not Brita-type filters)

This guidance is in alignment with DPW's annual water quality reports, which feature the following standing notification on the health effects of uncovered treated water reservoirs: "Uncovered reservoirs used to store treated drinking water can be open to contamination from animals, such as bird or insects."    

Links to the most recent Water Quality Report can be found here and appear on the water bills mailed to City and County water customers.    

Residents in Elkridge have been using a water truck to fill up on water to take home.

"I'm concerned about anything that says I shouldn't be drinking or should be very careful about drinking the water," Kate Hale, an Elkridge resident, said.

Hale said she recently found out that she lives in an affected area.

According to city leaders, the EPA now requires DPW to test for Cryptosporidium and Giardia at the city's uncovered finished reservoirs.

The parasite-positive samples were collected on September 19 from the Druid Lake uncovered reservoir, and the results of the test came back a week later.

Mayor Scott said that's why the city is currently working to cover the existing uncovered reservoirs at Druid Lake and Ashburton.

"One we expect to be completed in November and one at the beginning of the year - to completely be done with the protection for this particular thing," Mayor Scott said.

Until further notice, this water truck will be stationed here in the main parking lot of Howard County's Elkridge 50+ Center.

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