North Harwich Drinking Water Ban Lifted

by Staff reports

The ban on use of town water in North Harwich was lifted Thursday afternoon.

Water/Wastewater Superintendent Dan Pelletier said three samples sent to a laboratory on Wednesday showed no evidence of the foam suspected of contaminating the system. He reported the findings to representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection and at 2:27 p.m. the agency instructed Pelletier to lift the ban.

The town went "over and above" in its response to the incident, Pelletier said. As a precautionary measure, five additional samples were taken Thursday. He expects to have results back within 24 hours.

"We're in good shape," said Pelletier.

Firefighting foam used to extinguish a blaze on Great Western Road in Dennis Tuesday morning was believed to have contaminated parts of the Harwich public water supply. Officials issued a Do Not Drink order Wednesday for the entire town; the order was later narrowed to portions of North Harwich. Some residents reported that their water had an odd coloration and appeared foamy.

The firefighting foam is biodegradable and does not include the forever chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), but should not be consumed. Harwich Water Department crews Tuesday night were flushing out the system. Bottled water was distributed to residents of North Harwich for drinking, brushing teeth and cooking.

Bottled water was distributed Wednesday and Thursday at the Family Pantry of Cape Cod for residents of the affected area only. The town also provided water in bulk for some livestock owners in the village. Officials estimated that a maximum of 354 homes were affected by the order.

Residents may still experience discoloration of water due to flushing, according to a notice from the town. Residents who experience discoloration should run interior and exterior cold water taps simultaneously for about 10 minutes; hot water taps should then be run until the water turns cold to ensure flushing of hot water tanks. Homes with tankless water heaters should run hot water taps for at least 10 minutes.

Updates will be posted on and, as they are available.

This article has been updated with new information.