Boil order ends for the west side

Boil order ends for the west side
Photo courtesy Flickr user gabriel_rocha (Creative Commons).

PORTLAND, Ore. - A boil water notice that was issued for the west side of town on Saturday is now over after further testing came back negative for contamination.

The Portland Water Bureau made the announcement Sunday morning that tap water is now safe to drink for those who had been affected by the boil order, which was put in place after E. coli was found in a reservoir at Washington Park.

The city does, however, recommend that folks flush all their taps for two minutes, or until the water runs cold, before taking a drink. That will flush any potentially contaminated water out of the plumbing.

The city is continuing their investigation into how the water became contaminated. In the meantime, the reservoir has been drained so it can be inspected.

When the boil notice was issued on Saturday, some people were alerted within minutes but others didn't know for two or three hours. The water bureau told us that happened because of a glitch in the alert system and that they got the word out as quickly as possible.

As far as folks who might have felt inconvenienced, the city sent out the following statement after lifting the boil notice:

The Portland Water Bureau regrets any inconvenience the boil water notice has caused. While the risk was low, the boil notice was issued to protect the health and safety of drinking water customers. Additionally, drinking water regulations required the boil water notice. The Portland Water Bureau consulted closely with the State of Oregon Department of Human Services and Multnomah County Health officials to ensure that all state, county and federal health standards were maintained.

If you have questions about the alerts or your water, you can call the Portland Water Bureau's Water Line at (503) 823-7770. The city has also opened a City Council work session on water treatment. The session is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24 at 9:30 a.m. at City Council chambers.

This came as Portland Water Bureau customers are seeing a water rate hike this month - an increase of 6.7 percent.

In May, the state of Oregon ordered the City of Portland to cover all its reservoirs by the year 2020, including the reservoir at Washington Park that sparked the boil notice. The alternative is to shut them down in order to comply with federal regulations.

The Portland Water Bureau is in the process of working on getting the city's reservoir in compliance. It's part of the overall improvements to the system that will cost taxpayers an extra 2 percent in bill increases. The entire project is going to cost $300 million.

KATU Reporters Erica Nochlin and Kerry Tomlinson contributed to this report.