Water restrictions in Airway Heights impacts local businesses

Water restrictions in Airway Heights impacts local businesses

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. – The contaminated water in Airway Heights is hitting some local businesses hard.

Some said they had to get new filtration systems and had to stock up on bottled water and ice. Some even decided to close on Wednesday.

The sign outside On Alert Caffeine Station says "Drinkable Water and Coffee Here." They are inviting words to people who live in Airway Heights.  

“Today we're very, very busy and we're blessed the community is continuing to support us," said On Alert Caffeine Owner Kristen Otoupalik.

Otoupalik said it has taken a lot of work and money to stay open since they are unable to use the city's water. The costs started adding up when they had to buy a brand new water filtration system recommended by the city. She has since decided to bypass that filtration system and just using bottled water and ice from the store to make drinks.  

"Everything was several hundred dollars last night and then worked through the night to get it all installed," said Otoupalik.

Otoupalik said she also stocked up on ice and bottled water to keep her coffee machines and business running.

"So we have two different ways right now that we're trying to make sure that the water is safe," she explained.

Despite all the money spent and all the extra work, Otoupolik said her biggest concern is the safety of her customers.

Some businesses did decided to close because of the contamination making it hard for customers to find a place to eat on Wednesday afternoon. 

"We're from Davenport and we came through and we were on our way to Spokane and we though we stop up here to eat like we always go and we can't because so many places closed," said Bonnie Roberson. 

Despite the disappointment Roberson said she understands restaurants in the area are just being cautious. That is exactly why Wolffy's Owner Barbara Davis decided to temporarily close her restaurant. 

"We closed today because we wanted our customers safe, we knew coming in early we weren't going to be able to do what we needed to do to safe guard that," said Davis. 

Davis said they are doing a lot of cleaning and bringing in bottled water to use in the restaurant. Other restaurants along Highway 2 were closed as workers also decontaminated their kitchens and found ways to get safe water. Davis said it has been a lot of work but she is trying to stay positive, and she is doing whatever she can to be able to take this sign off her business' door. 

Meanwhile, operations at the Airway Heights Corrections Center are running smoothly. Officials said the inmates and staff have been given bottled water for drinking and they are also using bottled water to cook and clean dishes. They do not anticipate canceling visiting hours. Officials said they are getting water from Yakima and Tri Cities and private local vendors like Wal Mart and Costco. They also plan on flushing the system after the city does it. 

© 2017 KREM-TV


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