ADAMS -- Town officials asked residents to keep out of the Tophet and Reed brooks until further notice Friday, with recent testing of the waters having revealed trace amounts of E. coli bacteria.
The area affected includes both brooks from East Street to the Hoosic River Basin, according to a public service announcement released by Town Administrator Jonathan Butler on Friday.
More extensive testing is set to continue next week, but until then, Butler said, "it’s advisable to stay out of the water" and not fish there.
According to the town Board of Health, the E. coli could be carried downstream, but would be less concentrated than it’s yet-unknown level in a larger body of water.
The initial testing that found E. coli was performed by Massa chusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), enabled by a Water Quality Manage ment Planning grant from Massachusetts De partment of Environmental Pro tection (DEP).
In August, the same waterways were flagged for the potential presence of blue-green algae. The brooks were reopened for recreational use after additional testing found levels to be satisfactorily low.
To the understanding of town officials, Butler said, the newly discovered E. coli presence is not "directly related" to the blue-green algae issue, but may be related by geography, given the high concentration of farmland and livestock in the area. This year’s dry, hot summer could also be a factor.
The public will be immediately notified when more information becomes available, Butler’s announcement says.
"All [of the affected waters] are on private property, and [the town is] not really equipped to deal with this sort of thing. So if [additional testing] shows a higher concentration, then DEP will take control," Butler said.
Katherine Skiba, a DEP spokeswoman, confirmed this Friday.
"We haven’t had an opportunity to review the data yet, so we’ll be in contact with the MCLA team next week to see what the results were," Skiba said. "If we find evidence of excessive bacteria, then we’ll act ourselves."
Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s bathing beach standard for E. coli has a limit of 235 colonies per 100 ml of water.
E. coli occurs naturally in fecal matter. Though not necessarily harmful, it can cause illness in humans in high concentration.
Its presence in bodies of water is known to occur from exposure to untreated sewage and both animal and human feces.
MCLA’s website, in a section on the environmental studies department’s local river clean up efforts, says that Adams and other local cities and towns have been effective in remedying such problems in the past.
To reach Phil Demers, email