Tampering possible after THC found in Hugo's water supply

9NEWS at 9 p.m. 07/21/16.

LINCOLN COUNTY - The town of Hugo’s approximately 720 residents have been warned not to drink or cook using the local water supply after authorities found evidence of THC.

Cpt. Michael Yowell with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office says investigators have found evidence that someone may have tampered with one of the town’s five wells. At this point, police don’t know how much THC is in the water, or how it got there.

It’s something that one prosecutor said he hasn’t seen in his 22 year career.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was first told about the issue with the town’s water supply on Thursday afternoon. Hugo Public Works first learned about it after, while trying to administer a drug test, an employer in the area noticed that the town’s water was positive for THC.

This prompted additional tests, and Yowell says the sheriff’s office was able to isolate the THC to one well – Well #1. This well is no longer feeding the town’s water supply, but it will take 48 hours for the water to cycle through.

Water sample testing results are expected on Saturday, Capt. Michael Yowell with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said on Friday afternoon. 

In the meantime, Hugo’s residents have received over 2,500 bottles of water. More water is on the way.

Lincoln County Public Health Director Susan Kelly says no one has reported symptoms from the THC. If residents do notice anything amiss, they are asked to call the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Yowell says it is possible authorities are getting a false positive, since the tests were done with a field kit.

Nevertheless, he says the sheriff’s office, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and CBI are working to get to the bottom of what happened.

“This is a new thing,” Yowell said.

There are no legal recreational or medical marijuana stores, facilities or grows in Hugo. There are only 62 registered medical marijuana patients in all of Lincoln County.

“I think we owe it to our community, we owe it to our citizens to absolutely investigate this 100 percent,” Yowell said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the town's water is considered safe for bathing, showering, brushing teeth, cleaning and laundry. 

The CDPHE says the worst case side effects from short-term ingestion of THC are: 

-Impaired coordination and thinking that may affect the ability to drive

-Increased anxiety and/or increased heart rate. 

-Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia or delusional beliefs 

-Temporary impairments in learning ability and short-term memory 

The town of Hugo is located about 20 miles southeast of Limon and around an hour and 40 minute drive from Denver.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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