High alert: Colorado town may have marijuana in water supply

© Darren Staples
Residents of a Colorado town have been warned against using their water for drinking or bathing as it may contain traces of marijuana.

THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, was discovered in the water supply in the town of Hugo, located less than 100 miles (160km) southeast of Denver.

The discovery was made by a local company following simple “field tests” which returned a ‘positive’ result for the presence of what health authorities have described as “marijuana THC-related,” reported Reuters.

Police also carried out 10 other field tests, six of which returned a positive result, triggering the warning from officials.

“Investigators are assessing the situation with state and federal authorities,” Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. “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.”

One of the feeder wells into the town’s supply was reportedly tampered with, although it’s not clear when, and local authorities are now carrying out detailed tests to confirm any presence of chemicals in the water supply.

“We are checking to make sure this isn’t because of the field test kit — that it isn’t a false positive,” Capt. Michael Yowell of Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office told the Denver Post.

Both the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation are aiding local police with their investigation, which has left Hugo Mayor Tom Lee shocked.

“We’ll figure it out,” Lee said. “It just blew my mind.”

While the possession and consumption of marijuana is legal elsewhere in Colorado, it is prohibited in Hugo with no retail marijuana operations or known cultivation sites in the town or in the broader Lincoln County area.

No illnesses have yet been reported as a result of the discovery and, while authorities are being extra cautious, Lincoln County Health Officer John Fox issued a statement detailing how people need not be worried about the presence of THC in the water.

"It would take more product than any of us could afford to contaminate a city water supply to the extent that people suffer any effects," Fox said.

Listing the effects of marijuana usage, Fox added that "there is no need need to go to the emergency room unless you experience the symptoms."

It’s not only humans that have been warned against using the water though, with authorities also asking people to not let animals consume it.