January 17, 2018

Boil Water Order for E. coli Lifted For Mercer Island, WA

The boil water advisory for E. coli in the City of Mercer Island, Washington has been lifted as of  October 8, 2014. Restaurants can reopen after speaking directly with a Health Inspector and following step by step procedures.

Water in SinkResidents should flush their water systems at home. Follow these steps: flush pipes for five minutes by running the cold water tap at all faucets. If you live in a multi-level house, start at the top of the house. If the water is discolored, run water until it is clear. You may notice a strong chlorine smell – this is not harmful and shows that disinfected water has reached the house. The smell will abate if left to stand in a pitcher. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for appliances such as water softeners and filters. Throw away ice from automatic ice-makers; make and discard three batches, then wash and sanitize trays and make ice as usual. Run enough hot water to completely empty the water heater tank; water will feel cool even when you have the tap set to hot.

The schools will continue with “heat and eat” food and special procedures until crews sanitize the water systems tonight. Private schools will get phone calls from Public Health – Seattle & King County for procedures to follow.

One child did contract an E. coli O157:H7 infection during the time of the boil water advisory. Tests are pending to see if the bacteria came from the water supply or from another source.

The City has an action plan, which includes expert review to find the cause. Water engineers were not able to identify an obvious source of the contamination. The City will continue to inject chlorine into the system, and collect water samples for testing. Engineers will research potential equipment upgrades and improvements, and a complete review of the City’s cross-contamination program is underway.

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