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'It's a disgrace': West Baltimore residents demand action on contaminated water

'It's a disgrace': West Baltimore residents demand action on contaminated water
'It's a disgrace': West Baltimore residents demand action on contaminated water 03:08

BALTIMORE -- People living without clean water are fed up as Baltimore officials continue to search for the source of E. coli contamination that has much of West Baltimore under a boil order. 

"It's a disgrace how the government has really let the people down. It's a shame," said one woman as she picked up gallons of bottled water on Thursday. "Yes, we do feel neglected. Sandtown-Winchester is neglected. They make promises that they never keep." 

Mary Wilson is among more than 100 people living in the Penn North Recovery Center. She told WJZ she feels forgotten. 

"Nobody has come to check on us. They could care less who is drinking the water out of the faucets," Wilson said. "It does scare me. I have to remind some of the women don't use the faucet water. It's a whole other way of living."

The last sample that tested positive was on Mount Street at the police station where mains are being flushed and a strong odor of chlorine remains in the air.

Mayor Brandon Scott said a possible source of the contamination is a 30-inch water main from Ashburton. Maryland Department of the Environment engineers are on hand to help investigate the cause and testing continues across the area. 

In an interview Thursday morning, Scott said there were no further updates but he would continue to inform the public.

The impacted area has shrunk and the boil advisory now only includes blocks north of Route 40 and entirely in the city limits, north and south Riggs Avenue to West Franklin Street and east and west Carey Street to Pulaski Street. Here is a link to the interactive map.

The center of concern is in the Harlem Park and Sandtown-Winchester neighborhoods, where the Salvation Army partnered with Royal Farms to hand out water at a senior center. 

"We're hearing a need here, and this is where we set up. We want to make sure nobody is getting missed and make sure everyone has clean water because clean water is a human necessity," said Capt. Matthew Tidman of the Salvation Army.

Nina Christian, who is the director of social services for the Salvation Army, told WJZ the situation is heartbreaking. 

"It's something the seniors should never have to worry about. That's why we're bringing the water directly to them," Christian said.

Many are upset they were not notified of the contamination sooner. The first positive tests came out Saturday. The public was not notified until Monday.

"I should have been told sooner. especially with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, I have a whole lot of health issues," Adrian Cooper said.

For her, the frustration continues. City leaders still are not sure when the water will be safe to drink again. She had a message to them: "You've got to do a better job than this, a much better job than this."

Those who run an urban farm with horses are at their breaking point -- boiling water and doing whatever they can to keep their many animals hydrated.

"We have a total of 17 horses and that's like 170 gallons a day of water that we need just for the horses," said caretaker NaTeice Richardson. "We need help, and we need a water supply to sustain them until we know this is going to be over." 

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