Later that day, the department loosened the proposed restrictions somewhat — residents were originally advised not to use water for any purposes but were subsequently told it was safe to use water for showering, washing clothes, and cleaning dishes:
“It would take more product than any of us could afford to contaminate a city water supply to the extent that people would suffer any effects,” Dr. John Fox, Lincoln County’s health officer, said in a statement.
[Hugo, on] Colorado’s Eastern Plains, warned its residents not to drink, bathe in or cook with its tap water on Thursday because officials said multiple preliminary tests of the water came back positive for THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Residents were told not even to let their pets drink the water.
Experts interviewed by the Denver Post were highly skeptical of the THC panic, noting that the amount of marijuana needed to taint a town water supply was implausibly prohibitive in cost, and that THC is well-known for poor water solubility (hence the popularity of “cannabutter” for marijuana edibles):
“We are checking to make sure this isn’t because of the field test kit — that it isn’t a false positive,” said Capt. Michael Yowell of Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
The one thing that bothers me about this story from a scientific perspective is that THC is so insoluble in water … I can’t imagine, I can’t even fathom the idea that THC would be in water at any type of solubility to create any kind of health hazard.
#HugosWater CBI Scientists have concluded water samples are NEG for THC. Believed that test kit were false +. Water advisory is cancelled.
In a tweet embedded above, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said testing had been initiated due to “complaints,” presumably about THC-infused tap water, but the Denver Post provided a slightly different account of how the discovery occurred. According to that newspaper, field tests performed on employees by a private company observed inconsistent results in employee drug screening. Due to the variability of drug test results, the company used tap water as a control of sorts and found that the liquid (presumably used in lieu of urine) tested positive for marijuana use:
Officials in Colorado issued a warning after an atypical field test appeared to detect THC in Hugo's drinking water, but the alarm was unwarranted.
The executive also said wastewater plants may experience contamination because when people who have THC in their system use the bathroom, the THC will go through the wastewater system.
Denver7 wanted to know if THC contamination like this could happen in the Denver metro area and if it is tested for locally.
The tainted water was discovered by a company using an at-home marijuana kit, wanting to compare a positive test it discovered to what a negative test should look like.
What caused the contamination is still under investigation by public health officials.
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Multiple metro area health departments had no idea about this topic and were just as curious to find out what Lincoln County was dealing with.
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The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office found out one of the town’s wells, No.1 to be more precise, was broken into the day before.
DENVER — Hundreds of people in the town of Hugo in Lincoln County are being warned not to drink or cook with the town’s water after one of the town’s five wells tested positive for THC contamination. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.
Could the metro area's water supply get contaminated with THC?