Officials in Teller County are telling hundreds to boil their drinking water: An unsettling discovery has many people fearing contamination. Residents of the Paint Pony neighborhood of Woodland Park are asked to boil their water for about the next ten days.
The bodies of three ground squirrels were initially found in a residential drinking water tank about four days ago.
In the nine years he's lived in Paint Pony, Rick Newman hasn't had a problem with his tap water; It's a major part of his daily routine.
"I made coffee this morning, gave my dogs water this morning, brushed my teeth this morning, so I'm sure I used contaminated water when I did that," Newman said.
Newman is worried about the three drowned rodents found in the 80 thousand-gallon storage tank supplying the neighborhood with water.
"What that represents is a possible source of contamination to the water system," said Teller County Water and Sanitation District Operator David Stanford.
Stanford said his employees first made phone calls Tuesday morning to the districts' 240 customers. The water system is separate from the City of Woodland Park's water supply.
Tuesday afternoon they went door to door knocking, carrying fliers with written directions to boil the tap water as a health precaution against a possible fecal matter contamination.
"It's not a good thing to have in the water tank," said district employee Brooke Watt.
The cleanup could take the better part of ten days as officials plan to use water from Woodland Park, trying to avoid a possible cross contamination.
"It's our problem. We have some very specific plumbing to assure everyone that does not happen," Stanford said.
Just how long the rodents have been in the tank is still in question, but the water is under testing. Stanford has had no reports of any illness from customers drinking the water, which is already treated with chlorine.
"There is a strong possibility we will see no contamination in those samples," he said.
Rick Newman isn't taking any chances.
"I'm going to boil the water and make the most of it," he said.
The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment is conducting the water tests and is expecting results by Wednesday afternoon.