Boil-water order has some businesses scrambling

Several businesses are scrambling after a boil-water order was issued to 25,000 customers of the Kent County Water Authority after tests found E. coli bacteria contamination in a storage tank.

Customers in Cranston, Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick, East Greenwich, and some in North Kingstown and West Greenwich should boil their water vigorously for at least one minute before drinking it, cooking with it or brushing their teeth with it.

"We're hoping that we'll still be very busy, but you never know. People are scared," said Jesse King of the Cowesett Inn in West Warwick.

King said they usually cook soups in large pots, but now they're using them to boil water instead.

He said the restaurant can't serve sodas or other beverages through their fountain system so they have to buy new stock. King said the restaurant is purchasing liters of beverages from outside sources, and it's costing money.

"You have to get all new products, and purchase the same product twice," King said.

Even ice.

"We have two machines in the back that we normally use, but we can't," he said.

Other businesses affected by the boil-water order were schools.

Signs were posted on buildings throughout the New England Institute of Technology's East Greenwich campus advising students to not drink the water.

"So this is not great news first thing on a Monday morning. You're forced to find alternate plans," said Patrick Tracey of NEIT.

Tracey said the school has been boiling water ahead of time for coffee and tea.

Health Director Michael Fine said the order will be in place until at least Thursday. Tracey said it can't come soon enough.

"They're saying three days and I hope that's accurate," Tracey said.