Valley residents concerned about E. coli contamination notification

Posted in: Crisis Response, Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of KXLY | March 24, 2014  |  | Shared as educational material

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -It’s been four days since a possible E. coli contamination in Spokane Valley was identified and some people have yet to be notified about the contamination by Pasadena Park Irrigation District 17.

Some residents who haven’t been notified actually found out from their neighbors or the media.

The Health Department said they have 24 hours to notify customers. Pasadena Park Elementary School was notified about the possibly contaminated water on Friday. The health department sent out a news release Friday and say they have staffers going door-to-door to let people know about the contamination.

Those who were told early took precautions like stocking up on bottled water, but for those who just found out the situation is not sitting well with them.

One of those people who was not notified was Honey Poppe. She never got the word her water could possibly be contaminated with E. coli.

“Today’s Monday; they’ve known since 4 o’clock on Friday. They could canvass the area and still do it, but they should have been proactive and had a protocol,” Poppe said.

Poppe is not alone. Other residents in the area say the same thing that they have yet to be notified by the irrigation district.

“It would be nice if there were some regular steps communicated about what families can and cannot do. I’m concerned about other families that don’t have the resources,” Chris Moore, another resident who never received a notice about the contamination, said.

The health department sent out a press release on Friday urging the 2,300 homes and businesses that use District 17 water to boil it before using after it detected potentially harmful E. coli bacteria from a routine sample. A second sample confirmed the bacteria’s presence.

E. coli causes gastrointestinal illness, which is why residents who haven’t been notified are concerned.

“A colleague that I work with, she didn’t find out until yesterday and they had been drinking and brushing their teeth and using the water. So she was just devastated when she found out last night,” Moore said.

One of the main concerns residents have about the notices is that it didn’t reach all the potentially affected customers. They say not everyone watches the news or uses the internet so there should have been a reverse 911 call seeing that this is a time sensitive issue.

Pasadena Park Elementary School was notified by the health district and was able to make accommodations to the school so the 398 students who attend wouldn’t be affected.

“We brought in wash stations, we brought water for the kids and Pasadena was also generous and brought in for us as well,” West Valley School District spokesperson Sue Shields said.

Irrigation District manager Bruce Davidson said the district has four employees who are still in the process of going door-to-door notifying customers. The district has also significantly increased chlorine in the system to disinfect the water.

The health department took additional tests of the water Monday, but it takes 24 hours to analyze the water, which means the boil order could remain in effect for the rest of the week.

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