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US Virgin Islands declares state of emergency after lead and copper found in tap water in St. Croix

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands announced Wednesday that he declared a state of emergency after officials revealed last week that tap water in St. Croix contains lead and copper and warned people not to consume it.

The declaration, signed Monday by Gov. Albert Bryan, frees up urgently needed resources, streamlines emergency response and allows the U.S. territory to seek federal help.

The government also froze prices for bottled water and other products as local and federal authorities continue to test and monitor the water in St. Croix.

The investigation began in late September following complaints of reddish-brown water on the island of more than 50,600 people.

Officials have said that while the water should not be ingested or used for cooking, it is safe to use for showering and cleaning.