Portland, Oregon contaminated drinking water news brief: Portland’s westside tap water is safe to drink, officials say.

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News Brief
July 22

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Contaminated drinking water news: Portland’s westside tap water is safe to drink, officials say.

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 8:24 AM Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 7:43 PM

The Oregonian PORTLAND, OREGON – JULY 22, 2012 – Reservoir 3 at Washington Park is drained due to contaminated water problem, although the ban on drinking the water was removed at 8am Sunday. On Monday they will be cleaning the Reservoir 3. Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian Washington Park Reservoir 3 gallery (9 photos)

A boil water notice issued yesterday for west side Portland residents and businesses was rescinded Sunday morning after water tests came back negative for bacterial infection, officials said.

The Portland Water Bureau recommends customers flush their tap water for two minutes, or until the water runs cold before consuming it again.

“This will flush any potentially contaminated water from the plumbing,” the bureau wrote in a press release.

Water officials took samples from twelve different sites, both upstream and downstream from Washington Park’s Reservoir 3 distribution system.

“They all came back clear,” said Tim Hall, spokesperson for the bureau. “The drinking water’s clear.”

So far, nine people have called the bureau to complain of illness, though officials have yet to determine if the reports are connected to the contamination.

The time from exposure to actual sickness can take anywhere from one to seven days, says Dr. Gary Oxman of Multnomah County Health Department.

“We’ll certainly be alert to illness,” Oxman said. “But we’re not anticipating anything significant.”

The alert is the second in the city’s history. In 2009, the bureau issued a boil water notice for Portland’s west side due to E. coli found in that same reservoir 3, affecting over 50,000 customers in four water districts.

This time around, customers in an area almost twice as large were told to boil water used for drinking, cooking, teeth brushing, and ice making after the bureau returned a second positive test for bacterial contamination.

The scare prompted an immediate response from both residents and businesses. People rushed to buy bottled water for their homes. Some restaurants closed down. And Benson Bubblers throughout downtown were turned off.

The source of the bacteria is still under investigation, and Reservoir 3 is still being drained and inspected.

“We’ll put it back on line once we’re satisfied with the result,” Hall said.

Bureau workers will be looking at the reservoir 3‘s surveillance tape to see whether or not any tampering occurred. However, Hall added, there’s no reason to speculate that anyone did anything on purpose.

As far as whether this recent incident will have any impact on the city’s open reservoirs, Hall said, that conversation is for City Hall.

Related topics: e coli, portland water bureau
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