Administrators have canceled school for the rest of the week in a Delaware County, Okla., city because of concern over blood worms found in the community's water supply.
School was canceled Tuesday by Colcord Public Schools officials after residents of the city were told not to drink the water. Superintendent J.D. Parkerson cancelled classes for the rest of the week on Wednesday (Aug. 28).
The running water in Colcord was shut off after the water tower was drained Tuesday (Aug. 27) night. Water Commissioner Cody Gibby said there were no traces of the blood worms found in the water tower.
The blood worms were found on a city water filter Monday (Aug. 26).
"Colcord was notified by a user of the water system," said Tim Ward, assistant division director of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality's Water Quality Division. "They actually found these red worms on their filter."
Mayor Pat Upton said this was the first time that Colcord has experienced this infestation. The DEQ said that this is the second recorded case in the state of Oklahoma.
"We've never seen this before," Upton said. "And consequently, it was a little bit scary at first until we were able to identify what they were."
Blood worms, also known as red worms, are the larvae of midge flies.
Officials say the blood worms do not pose a health threat, but the city is purifying the water supply to get rid of the pests.
As a precaution, the city issued a drinking water warning. Gibby said that he hopes the water will be approved for drinking on Saturday (Aug. 31), but it may not be until next week.
Residents of Colcord don't have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for drinking water. Officials say around 4,000 bottles of water have been donated to the city. They are available for pick-up at the Colcord Emergency Management building.
Ward said they believe the infestation began at the city's water treatment plant which uses an open-filter system. Although they are still investigating, DEQ officials believe the midge fly was able to enter the top of the filter and work its way down to begin the infestation.
Ward told KOTV, our Tulsa affiliate, red worm infestation is more common in the southeastern part of the United States.