According to the City of Alamosa’s press release Friday afternoon, Alamosa’s first case of salmonella occurred on March 7. As of noon Friday, there had been 293 total cases reported, 78 confirmed cases and 12 hospitalized. The first bottled water alert was March 19.
A Stage 1 Red Alert remains in effect throughout the city this afternoon as officials anticipate a geographically-phased transition to a Stage 2 notification tomorrow and into Sunday. On Tuesday, high concentrations of chlorine began to be introduced into the water system to help eliminate the bacterial contamination that had been identified previously. Water samples are being taken from a cross-section of sites across the city including the hospital, medical clinics, schools, business areas and neighborhoods. Depending on the site, the samples will be tested for salmonella or other bacteria, plus arsenic, copper, lead and other metals. The samplings will reveal when it is safe to progress to the yellow Stage 2 Alert.
The roughly 8,500 residents of the southern Colorado town won’t be able to drink the water until the chemical is washed out. That could take three weeks. Alamosa’s water is drawn from a deep well and had been the largest of about 100 water systems in the Colorado that did not require chlorination. City plans called for a new water plant, already being built, to include chlorination even before the salmonella outbreak.