A water tanker and crates of bottled water were brought into the eastern Plains town of Hugo on Friday, one day after the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said the town's water supply was tainted with THC, a main ingredient in marijuana.
State health officials say it's too soon to know whether THC in the water would intoxicate people who drink it. Residents have been warned not to use it for now.
Sheriff's captain Michael Yowell said investigators found signs that one of Hugo's five wells had been tampered with, but they hadn't determined whether someone deliberately tainted the water.
Possible health effects from ingesting THC contaminated drinking water depend on several factors, including how much THC is in the water, how much water a person drinks, and how long the person is drinking the water, the department said.
The FBI, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Lincoln County Sherriff's Office are continuing to investigate the matter.
Yowell said a company that administers employee drug tests was the first to detect THC in Hugo's water. Residents were even told not to let their pets drink the water, the Post said. But for a small town in Colorado it's been a real public health nightmare after field tests showed that a public well was testing positive for THC.
Police also carried out 10 other field tests, six of which returned a positive result, triggering the warning from officials. "Bathroom usage is still safe, but until more information is known to us, out of an abundance of caution, avoid drinking Town of Hugo Water". The water tested positive for THC.
Peter Perrone, a chemist and owner of the state-licensed cannabis testing facility, Gobi Analytical in suburban Denver, said he was skeptical of the reports. The local hospital released a statement saying it would take more THC "than any of us could afford" to contaminate a city water supply to the point where people would suffer any effects. Multiple preliminary tests of Hugo's water came back positive for the substance, according to the Denver Post.
"This causes real concern, because if it happens in Hugo, Colorado, it can happen any place", said resident Maye Gene Lee.