January 19, 2018

E. coli in Portland Oregon Water System Leads to Boil Notice

The Portland Water Bureau issued a Boil Water Notice to all of its customers on May 23, 2014 after E. coli was found in the drinking water supply. The affected areas include Portland Water Bureau, Burlington, City of Gresham north of I-84, Lake Grove, Lorna Portland, Palatine HIll, Rockwood, Tigard Water Service Area (including Durham, King City and Bull Mountain), Valley View, and West Slope Water Districts.

Water in SinkThe number of people affected by this notice is about 670,000. Water samples taken at three locations tested positive for E. coli over a three day period. They were collected at the outlets of Mount Tabor Reservoirs 1 and 5, and at the SE 2nd Avenue and Salmon Street water sampling station. Those reservoirs have been taken offline.

All customers should boil all tap water used for drinking, food preparation, tooth brushing, and ice for at least one minute, even if you have a water filtering system. Ice or any beverages made with water that hasn’t been boiled on or after May 20, 2014 should be discarded.

Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff said in a statement, “while we believe at this time that the potential health risk is relatively small, we take any contamination seriously and are taking every precaution to protect public health.” Customers will be notified when they no longer need to boil their water.

The government said that it’s not unusual for one of the 240 samples taken every month to be positive for bacteria. But when a positive sample occurs, more samples are taken to confirm the contamination. If those additional samples are positive, a boil water notice is issued.

Contamination can be caused by loss of water pressure or broken pipes. Officials do not know what has caused this contamination, but are investigating. You can visit the Portland Water Bureau and enter your home address to see if you are part of the boil water area.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, watery and/or bloody diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. If a fever is present, it is usually mild. Complications of this infection include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure.

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