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article image'All Clear' Issued for Portland Water Following E.Coli Warnings

By Carol Forsloff     Nov 29, 2009 in Environment
On Saturday, November 28 the Portland, Oregon Water Bureau issued a warning about the Portland water on the West side of the Willamette River. E.coli was found, but after additional precautions and testing, the Bureau reports the water safe to drink.
According to KOIN Channel 6 in Portland, the Water Bureau observed late today the water in the service area originally cited as having E.coli bacteria in one west-side reservoir has tested safe to drink. But as an added caution the Bureau has advised people to run all taps for a few minutes until the water is cold in the event any of residual contaminated water remains in the pipes.
Consumers had been advised since yesterday to boil water for at least a minuter as a safety precaution. Experts maintain that there is little chance there is any remaining contaminated water and that if any were to be found, it would be a very small amount. No one has been reported ill from contaminated water during the period the warning was given to customers in the West side of the city.
Contamination was detected in one of the reservoirs serving the Portland community, Reservoir 3 at Washington Park. Customers served by this reservoir as well as those from Palatine Hills, Valley View and Burlington water districts were advised to use precautions, including boiling the water. The reservoir has been removed from service and is being drained, which is said to occur over four days. In the meantime supplies from other sources are being used for the areas where the warnings had been issued. Twenty-three different sites were tested, and all of them have been found clean.
Water Commissioner, Randy Leonard, maintains, "Nobody was at risk" even as the warning was in effect. Mayor Sam Adams and Health Officer Gary Oxman explained that the system presents an "overreaction" in order to be especially cautious. This is a way of getting public attention, again as a safety measure. Authorities say it is better people be inconvenienced than be at risk of poisoning.
Water Fountain
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In the meantime an investigation into the discovery of E.coli is being undertaken to determine the cause of the bacteria having entered Portland water.
Portland responded quickly to the concerns about contamination. This is in contrast to under-developed countries and poor locales throughout the world where contaminants enter the water, causing illness and death. Early this year Reuters reported children died in Nigeria after drinking contaminated water from a communal pool used by animals as well as for human waste.
The authorities in Portland made a decision to take dramatic action based upon testing of the water in a fashion that would get public attention and response. Portland water has long been touted as drinkable out of the tap, so the experience of the past 24 hours was unusual for people of the region.
More about Contaminated water, Coli, Portland, Oregon
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