SPOKANE, Wash. – The third round of water testing has been received by the City of Airway Heights and officials said the water is still unsafe to drink.
Until the city announces the advisory is lifted, residents are urged to avoid drinking city water and using it for cooking.
"Please don't drink the water, or cook with it, until we raise this health advisory," said Mitch Metzger, the Airway Heights Fire Chief. "We're not going to raise that water advisory until we know that the whole water system is clean."
Residents have been drinking bottled water since May 16, when officials announced there were high levels of two different contaminants in the water. The acids in the water are classified by the EPA as emerging contaminants and are present in common household items and heat and fire resistant products, including aqueous film forming foam formulations that were used by the Air Force in fire trucks from 1970-2016 including those at Fairchild AFB.
Twenty samples were collected from various locations throughout the city. The distribution system still has four samples that ranged from 85-141 PPT. The rest of the samples showed “non-detect” or significantly below the EPA advisory level of 70 PPT.
Officials said one sample located in the industrial area has been isolated and listed at 1245 PPT. This area is being valved off and drained.
A combined 25 million gallons of water have been flushed in the area during the last two weeks. The city is continuing to flush the distribution system as well as the industrial area throughout the weekend.
"It shows that our flushing it working," said Metzger. "We just need to do more flushing to get the rest of it out."
Additional samples will be collected on Monday. These samples will be sent to the Anatek Laboratory in Moscow and results should be available mid-week.
Water will continue to be distributed behind Yokes in Airway Heights.
When asked about some of the concerns residents have had about dumping the contaminated water back into the ground, Metzger said that was not an issue.
"The water table is already polluted, the only places we're dumping this contaminated water to is on areas that we've been dumping this water for years in the form of irrigation," he explained. "So we already know that the ground would contain this contaminant if we went and tested it."
"So in theory, we should be making it better," Metzger said. "Because it's clean water that is getting down to the water table."