Williamsburg hotel, waterpark still closed because of boil order

Officials found E. coli bacteria in hotel's water supply last week

Several Williamsburg businesses, including the Wasserbahn Waterpark, are still closed because of a boil order issued last week after bacteria were found in the water supply.

Officials from two state agencies closed the Clarion Inn, which houses the Wasserbahn and Seven Villages Restaurant, on Friday after a water test reported to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources showed E. coli bacteria in the well that supplies the hotel.

A nearby Maid-Rite was also closed, and a Casey’s General Store may not prepare food until the problems are fixed or the businesses find an alternate water source, officials said.

"They are working toward a resolution for the problem," Jon Ryk, an environmental specialist with the DNR, said Wednesday. He thought it would likely take a couple more days for the businesses to reopen.

The Clarion’s internal water testing showed the presence of E. coli, but the DNR did not find the bacteria when representatives came to test the hotel’s water supply last weekend. The agency did find coliform bacteria in the water-treatment process, which indicates problems with the system, Ryk said.

Most types of E. coli, which lives in human intestines, are harmless. However, toxigenic strains can cause diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea that can, in extreme cases, cause kidney failure and even death, especially in young children. The bacteria can be passed by eating contaminated food or swallowing pool water tainted by human or animal waste.

DNR officials on site Monday could not identify how bacteria was entering the system, and the hotel was unable to maintain chlorine levels adequate for drinking water, Ryk said.The Johnson County Public Health Department, which inspects pools in Iowa County, closed the Wasserbahn on Friday. Although dangerous bacteria were not found in the pool, inspectors decided on the closure because of repeated issues since the hotel changed ownership in October, said Ken Sharp, environmental health division director for the Iowa Department of Public Health.