Don't drink the tap water: Italian town of Matera reports contaminated water supply

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Don't drink the tap water: Italian town of Matera reports contaminated water supply
The city of Matera is famed for its ancient cave dwellings. Photo: DepositPhotos"

The historic city of Matera in southern Italy has warned people not to use tap water after high levels of bacteria were detected in the water supply.


Authorities in Matera, which is popular with tourists for its ancient sassi or cave dwellings, say that levels of coliform bacteria – the group that includes E. coli – exceeded safe levels in some of the samples tested from water used to fill local taps.

The mayor's office issued an urgent warning on Friday morning advising people not to drink water from the mains until further notice.

It also ordered the city's schools to remain closed throughout the day.

In the meantime water company Acquedotto Lucano will be responsible for distributing bottled water, Mayor Raffaello De Ruggieri's statement said.

Coliform bacteria is found in human and animal waste, as well as soil. While most types are not harmful, the species known as E. coli can cause serious illness, though it is only rarely transmitted via contaminated drinking water.

However, high levels of coliform bacteria can be an indicator that waste has reached the water and therefore other harmful bacteria are likely to be present, which is why health authorities consider it a warning sign.

Contaminated water in industrial cooling towers was blamed for a recent outbreak of legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease and other sicknesses, in northern Italy. 

READ ALSO: Source of Italy's legionella outbreak identified: don't worry, it's not the water

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP


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