A boil water advisory for residents in the Oak Grove area may last for several weeks, according to the Hood River County Environmental Health Department.
The notice affects 120 homes and about 315 people in the area after E.Coli was found in water supply of the Oak Grove Water Company.
According to Mike Matthews, Hood River County Environmental Health Director, the contamination likely came from cracks in the company’s aging spring box, which allowed contaminated surface water to leak in.
Matthews said it was likely that animal waste introduced the bacteria into the water.
The spring box had been scheduled for repair, and state funds had been authorized to do so, but the bacteria contamination will now expedite the process.
The bacteria was discovered following a routine monthly test of the water supply on Nov. 26.
The results of the test came back positive for fecal coli form (E. Coli) bacteria on Nov. 28 and the state and county were then notified, prompting a boil water notice for affected residents.
“This notice is probably going to be in place for a couple weeks,” Matthews said.
All tap water which will be used for drinking or cooking. Washing dishes, brushing teeth or making ice should be brought to a rolling boil for at least a minute before being used.
The county also urged residents to throw out any beverages made with ice or tap water on or after Nov. 26.
“We’d been concerned this would happen,” Matthews said of leaks in the spring box.
The last sanitary survey conducted of the area’s water supply identified the aging spring box as a potential problem, and funds had recently been allocated to fix it.
E. Coli bacteria can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches among other symptoms, according to a county release on the boil water notice.
Residents on the Oak Grove Water company system who experience those symptoms should consider contacting their medical care provider.
The bacteria poses an elevated risk for the young, old and those with compromised immune systems.
Matthews encouraged anyone with questions about the boil water, or those who are not sure if they are connected to the Oak Grove Water Company supply to contact the county Environmental Health Services Department at 541-387-6885.
Matthews said the department will send out notices when the water is safe to drink again and no further traces of bacteria are detected.