US Virgin Islands warns that tap water in St. Croix is contaminated with lead and copper

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Friday warned that people on the island of St. Croix should not drink their tap water because officials found high levels of lead and copper.

Authorities said they are conducting more tests as they investigate the source and extent of the problem. They added that the U.S. territory’s Water and Power Authority continues to flush water lines to decrease the amount of toxins.

The water was first tested in late September as part of a local and federal investigation into its brown and red color.

The U.S. Virgin Islands government said in a statement that it was working to make a case for the declaration of a federal emergency to obtain resources for further testing and other assistance.

The local Department of Health has set up hotlines and said testing for lead exposure was available.

Officials noted that while the tap water in St. Croix should not be ingested, it is safe to use for showering and cleaning.