PORTLAND -- A boil water emergency notice Saturday forced some restaurants and coffee shops to close early and left them wondering what steps to take Sunday morning before the rule was lifted.
The boil announcement did not reflect as dangerous a threat to the public as many may have concluded, said Portland Water Bureau director Davis Shaff.
The emergency notice said there was possible contamination from animal or human waste from an unspecified strain of E.coli.
Bridgeport Brewing Company in the Pearl got a steady stream of customers Sunday. Assistant manager Janessa Philemon-Kerp said when she heard about the boil notice, they scrambled and got rid of their ice and bought bottled water from a store. She was relieved when the water was declared safe to drink.
“I think people are still a little nervous of the westside. If people go out and eat, they may want to stay on the eastside today. It's safe. We heard its safe," she said. "But I think it's going to scare people from this side of the river for a few days.”
Sisters Coffee was busy as usual Sunday afternoon. They re-opened after closing up early Saturday to stay on the safe side.
“We thought of everything, how we'd have to go get ice, more bottled water so we just decided to close and not worry about it,” Clayton Rogers, Sisters Coffee manager said.
Westside Albertson's customer Monica Dolan told KGW she was shocked to see people walking through the parking lot with bags of ice. A manager was able to find cases of bottled water in a storage area.
"So now I have a bunch of extra bottled water to last a lifetime, or until the next alert," she said. "I just didn’t want to drink straight cranberry juice all night, or wine which was my other choice."
Bureau director Shaff said the boil water order had been necessary by state law.
"People say, 'Well, why did you put us through this?' and that’s because there’s no flexibility in the rules," Shaff said.
"The state ordered us to issue a boil water notice even though the public health risk is almost non-existent. I understand where there’s a real contamination where people are getting sick, but that’s not the case here, and the risk here is far less than the disruption that was caused."