Oak Grove spring box, (above) which sits near Kingsley Reservoir, is supposed to filter out contaminants from ground water before they enter the water supply. The County Environmental Health Department thinks cracks in the aging box allowed contaminated water to get into the system.
Photo by Ben McCarty.
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 bacteria contamination will now expedite the process.
The areas covered by the notice run from the southwest ends of Kingsley Drive and Binns Hill Road north to the intersection of Barrett and Country Club and east to the intersection of Portland Drive and Markham Road.
A map of the areas covered by the notice is available on the county’s website at http://www.co.hood-river.or.us/.
Matthews encouraged anyone with questions about the boil water notice or those who are not sure whether they are connected to the Oak Grove Water Company supply to contact the county Environmental Health Services Department at 541-387-6885.
The bacteria were discovered following a routine monthly test of the water supply 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.
E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches among other symptoms, according to a county release on the boil water notice.
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.
Matthews said affected residents should be prepared to boil or buy bottled water for the duration of the alert.
At Hood River Golf Course, which is right in the middle of the boil water area, the notice brought a slightly earlier than normal closure for the Club’s restaurant.
Brian Brandt said that they were winding down for the season anyway, but when the alert came out, they simply decided to shut down the restaurant early.
“We went ahead and closed the restaurant because there was no way we could operate,” he said. “This time of year it’s not the end of the world; we just had to close a little earlier.”
The pump box, which filters ground water before it goes into the water supply, has been a concern for the county for awhile.
“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.
Residents on the Oak Grove Water company system who experience symptoms caused by E. coli should consider contacting their medical care provider.
The bacterium poses an elevated risk for the young, old and those with compromised immune systems.
Matthews said the department will send out notices when the water is safe to drink again and no further traces of bacteria are detected.