E. coli warning impacts 6,000 in Spokane Valley


by KREM.com


Posted on March 24, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 24 at 7:24 PM

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.— A boil order remained in place Monday for about 6,000 people in Spokane Valley as new details emerged about how people were notified.

The advisory is for customers two miles east and west of Argonne Road and the north bank of the Spokane River to about one mile south Stoneman Road.

On Friday, the State Department of Health urged customers in the Spokane Valley to boil their tap water. They said E. coli was detected in the water. There were 2,300 homes and businesses, or about 6,000 people, impacted by the boil alert.

The boil warning came at 4:40 Friday afternoon when the water results came in from the lab, according to officials.

Federal law stated that the water district has 24 hours to get the word out. Employees with the water district said they tried to put notices on some homes Friday and Saturday. The Office of Drinking Water said it issued a notice on Saturday.

Some customers in the Spokane Valley told KREM 2 News they were not officially notified.
“A lot of people could be very sick, very ill right now,” said customer Fred Jones.

Jones said he likes his neighborhood because his neighbors watch out for each other. He said one neighbor called him Saturday afternoon to warn him about the possible E. coli contamination in the water.

READ: Boil water advisory for Pasadena Park in Spokane Valley

Customers should boil tap water they use for drinking, brushing teeth, preparing food, making ice and washing dishes to kill the bacteria. E. coli can cause gastrointestinal illness.

Officials said the water district’s small staff made a big effort to place notices on at least one half of the homes in the area.

This advisory affects only Pasadena Park Irrigation District 17 customers. Those who are unsure of who supplies their water should check their monthly water bill.

Some neighbors wondered why an automated email or reverse 911 phone call did not go out to every home and business affected.

KREM 2 News asked the State Office of Drinking Water that question.

“That's an excellent question. As with any event of this nature we are focused right now on fixing the problem and lifting the advisory. But we will debrief with all of the involved parties and see if anything could have been done different and find potential improvements for the future,” said an official with the office.

The Health District notified the West Valley School District almost immediately on Friday. Staff at Pasadena Park Elementary said they worked through the weekend to make changes to protect their 390 students. They said they put covers on all drinking fountains and set up hand sanitizing stations and bottled water.

KREM 2 News knocked on one man’s door on Monday. The man said he is new to the area and had not heard about the boil alert until KREM 2 News knocked on his door. He said he and his wife and their newborn baby had been drinking the water for days.

The boil-water advisory will remain in place until the Pasadena Park Irrigation District 17 staff and the Department of Health are satisfied that the water is safe to drink. On Monday, officials said the boil advisory would last until at least Wednesday.