Malta residents told not to use water
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Schools were closed and residents were given bottled water Monday in the northern Montana town of Malta after someone cut the wire fence around the city's water tanks. An official from the Public Works Department said someone cut the fence and crawled inside, then used a ladder to get out. Officials discovered the breach Sunday morning, but the Public Works Department can't determine if someone tampered with the water until testing is completed. Officials warned residents not to use tap water for drinking, bathing or cooking. Shelley Nolan of the Montana Department of Environmental Qual i ty told The Bi l l ings Gazette that preliminary tests results may be available as soon as tonight, but final results are a week away. The city will not be able to use water from its two tanks until that is complete. Phillips County Undersheriff Scott Moran said there was no evidence that anybody put anything in the tanks and there was no visible damage. "All the indications are that it was kids," he said. Nolan said she has given permission for the city to f lush tank water from i t s municipal pipes and then from residential pipes throughout the city of 1,980 people. Once that is complete, the city may be able to pipe in water from its wells. Malta schools will also be closed today, but will reopen Wednesday, with or without city water, school Superintendent Kris Kuehn told the Gazette. Officials 250 miles away in Boulder, had a similar scare last month after officials discovered a hatch had been pried off one of the public water system's main storage tanks. The town's 1,360 residents were ordered to boil the water before drinking, cooking or brushing their teeth, and testing revealed no contamination.