Would You Like Some E.coli Gravy With Your Turkey?

November 30, 2009


Wednesday: City takes water sample.
Thursday: Thanksgiving. Sample shows E.coli. No announcement.
Friday: City re-checks E.coli in the City of Portland water. No announcement.
Saturday at 11pm: Call from husband about seeing news story about E.coli in water and the need to boil.
E.coli comes from fecal matter –poop–in the water. Uh, how did it get there again? A little back wash from the Willamette or something?
The City says it could have been from a dead bird or something.
Here’s what the Zero reports on the funky timing of the testing and then the announcement. 

The Water Bureau lost 24 hours in issuing the boil-water order because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Shaff, the bureau director, explained that a water sample from Reservoir 3 in Washington Park was drawn Wednesday, one of 20 routine samples performed throughout the system that day.
Samples must incubate 24 hours before being tested. A test on Thanksgiving showed the sample contained E. coli from fecal contamination. Rather than take another sample Thursday, the bureau waited until Friday morning.

In short, someone was on vacay and couldn’t report the findings to the public which was busy serving E.coli gravy to their guests.

I understand someone from the City was to have sent out emails about finding E.coli in the water. Is this true? My husband’s checking his email because I don’t have any in mine.
UPDATE: No emails or robocalls to update citizens that their water might be poisoned. However, I did hear a soundbite on radio news from Randy Leonard, Water Bureau Boss, in which he says Portlanders overreacted.
Sam Adams says the City should have a system to notify residents of future water problems [but they used the money for that for street cars]. Ok, I added that last part. It’s my contention, however, that the City, Metro and County are to Portland what the Levee Boards are to New Orleans. Money for pet projects and everything else–except fortifying existing infrastructure.
On the issue of overreacting, here’s what Randy said:

Leonard said some people overreacted, but said the incident pointed out the need to have water and other emergency supplies on hand. Multnomah County health officer Dr. Gary Oxman  said the warning system is a “designed over-reaction” intended to protect the most vulnerable residents.

From the City’s website:

4:25 PM November 29, 2009



Residents and businesses west of the Willamette River may now drink tap water without boiling it first. This includes customers of the Portland Water Bureau, Palantine Hill, Valley View and Burlington water districts. Additional testing of drinking water has shown no further presence of bacterial contamination. The Portland Water Bureau recommends all residents and businesses flush all taps for 2 minutes or until the water runs cold before consuming for the first time.

“The second set of results showing no contamination is good news; it indicates that whatever contamination was present was both transient and limited to a relatively small portion of the water system,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Gary Oxman.

Earlier this week, [emphasis added] contamination was detected in Washington Park Reservoir 3 that serves west side customers of the Portland Water Bureau, and the Palatine Hills, Valley View and Burlington water districts. That reservoir has been taken off-line and being drained, which will take up to four days. The reservoir will be tested, investigated for contamination, and cleaned before it is put back on line.

On Saturday, in addition to the sites required for resampling, the Portland Water Bureau sampled twenty sites in the distribution system. Eighteen of these sites were downstream of Reservoir 3 and reflect the area affected by the boil water notice. All of these samples were negative for total coliform and E.coli, indicating that there is not persistent widespread contamination in the distribution system.

The initial positive E.coli sample was sent to Legacy Emanuel Laboratory for typing and laboratory results indicate that the E.coli found in Reservoir 3 are not the O:157:H7 strain of E.coli, which is associated with more serious illness.

The Portland Water Bureau thanks Portlanders for their cooperation and understanding during the mandatory “Boil Water Notice”. The Portland Water Bureau consulted closely with the State of Oregon Department of Human Services and the Multnomah County Health Department to provide the best possible protection to the public.

The Water Bureau reminds people of the importance of having a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit, which includes a three-day supply of potable water for sitautions such as this incident and other emegencies. Information on emergency preparedness kits can be found on the American Red Cross Web site.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.
For more information visit www.portlandonline.com/water or call the Water Bureau Customer Service line at (503) 823-7770.

November 29, 2008 12:30 pm
The Boil Water Notice is still in effect for Portland Water Bureau customers west of the Willamette River and customers of Burlington, Palatine Hill and Valley View water districts.  Customers should continue to boil all water for one minute before consuming.
The Portland Water Bureau will have an update at 4 PM today, November 29, 2009 when results from the most recent sampling results are known.

November 28, 2009 

Water delivered by Portland Water Bureau, Burlington, Palatine Hill, and Valley View Water Districts could be contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria

Routine water quality samples for total coliforms, including E. coli, were confirmed for fecal contamination in a Washington Park open reservoir on November 28, 2009. Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these waters can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

These symptoms are not only caused by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

What Should I do? What does this mean to me?

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST OR USE BOTTLE WATER. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Bring all water to a rolling boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.

What is being done?
The Portland Water Bureau has taken the reservoir out of service. We will inform you when tests show no bacteria and you no longer need to boil your water. We anticipate resolving the problem within 24 hours.

For more information, please contact Portland Water Bureau at 503-823-7770 or 1120 SW 5th Ave., Portland, OR, 97204. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

 For more information:
¡Advertencia! Empezando desde hoy

Todas las personas que beben agua del sistema de agua de la Ciudad de Portland oeste del Rio Willamette: HIERVAN EL AGUA POTABLE ANTES DE USARLA.
Éste es un aviso importante acerca del agua potable que afecta su salud. Por favor llame al 503-823-7770 para obtener información en español.

This notice is being sent to you by Portland Water Bureau. State Water System ID#: OR4100657.
Date distributed: November 28, 2009.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com