Water bureau: Animal waste caused boil alert

Water bureau: Animal waste caused boil alert

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by Wayne Havrelly, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Updated Saturday, May 24 at 10:26 PM

PORTLAND -- After a day of dealing with boiled and bottled water, the largest boil order in Portland history has been lifted.

The alert was lifted just after 11:00 a.m. Saturday, around 24 hours after it went into effect.

More: Portland boil alert lifted, tap water safe to drink 

"We took over 60 samples of water throughout the city system and throughout the wholesaler systems, and they all came back negative," said Portland Water Bureau director David Shaff.

The source of the contamination was animal waste from one of the uncovered reservoirs at Mt. Tabor. Officials said they know that because test results above and below the open water turned up clean.

"We may never know what kind of animal waste, but when we drain the reservoir we will look for obvious smoking guns like dead birds at the bottom," said Shaff.

Before your drink your tap water again, the city wants you to run your faucet for at least two minutes to flush the line.

Also, make sure your hot water heater is set to at least 120 degrees. That's a common setting, right between warm and hot.

The boil alert created big hassles for many businesses, especially restaurants. Many had to throw away food and produce that was washed in potentially contaminated water. Some actually closed their doors, while others scrambled along with everyone else to find bottled water on store shelves.

The City Water Bureau's website crashed during the alert from all the web traffic.

The reverse 911 system worked, but it took up to three hours to generate calls to the 461,000 people who signed up for the service.

To sign up for future emergency alerts, click here.

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