Pubdate: Sat, 23 Jul 2016
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2016 The New York Times Company
Author: Jack Healy


DENVER - There are no marijuana dispensaries or greenhouses in the 
tiny railroad town of Hugo, where Theodore Roosevelt once ate 
breakfast with the local cowboys. But this week, Hugo's 740 residents 
were told to stop drinking the water after the town's water supply 
tested positive for THC, the psychoactive chemical in Colorado's most 
famous cash crop.

The trouble started when a local company trying to calibrate its 
employee drug tests pulled a positive reading from Hugo's tap water. 
The town's Public Works Department investigated and found signs of 
tampering and "forced entry" at one of the wells that supply the 
town's drinking water, a spokesman for the Lincoln County sheriff 
told reporters. The town sealed off the well that seemed to be the 
source of the tainted water.

No one has reported feeling sick or intoxicated from drinking the 
water, though people around the high-plains town joked on Friday that 
perhaps they should be drinking more water. On the town's Facebook 
community page, Hugo Happenings, people joked about Hugo's new 
"healing waters," and said that its ice cubes could be the tiny 
town's answer to marijuana brownies.

"What a way to get our town on the news," said Patsie Smith, a former 
mayor, who on Friday took a shower and made her morning coffee as 
usual and felt completely normal.

With people urged not to drink from the tap, the town had handed out 
2,500 bottles of water by midday Friday, and closed the swimming pool 
for the day despite temperatures heading toward 95 degrees. Jean's 
Family Kitchen was closed, and managers at local markets said sales 
of bottled water had been brisk.

On Friday, investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation 
took water samples back to the agency's lab in suburban Denver to run 
more sophisticated tests. After the initial positive result, county 
officials ran 10 field tests on the town's water, six of which were 
positive for THC. Only one of five municipal wells had tested positive for THC.

In Hugo, residents were still bathing, watering their lawns and doing 
the dishes with the water. Officials said it would take about 48 
hours for all of the potentially THC-laced water to be flushed from 
the water system.

Ms. Smith said most people were taking it in stride, even though she 
thought it unnecessary to close down the pool.

"It's pretty much a running joke," she said. "I'm personally afraid 
it's an overreaction, but better safe than sorry."
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