City of Portland issues E. coli Boil Water Alert for entire city

City of Portland issues E. coli Boil Water Alert for entire city

Credit: Erin Powell

City of Portland issues E. coli Boil Water Alert for entire city


by Cornelius Swart, Staff

Posted on May 23, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Updated Friday, May 23 at 11:14 AM

PORTLAND -- The Portland Water Bureau issued a 'boil water alert' for the entire city and region Friday morning after the city detected E. coli in water samples.

More: Map to the affected areas

"Until further notice, all Portland Water Bureau customers and those in the affected areas should boil all tap water used for drinking, food preparation, tooth brushing and ice for at least one minute. Ice or any beverages prepared with un-boiled tap water on or after May 20 should be discarded," the city alert reads.

"In three separate incidents from May 20 to May 23, repeat water samples confirmed the presence of total coliform and E. coli in routine drinking water samples," the alert reads. 

The water samples tested for E. coli at Mount Tabor Reservoirs 1 and 5, and at the SE 2nd Avenue and Salmon Street water sampling station, according to the city.

The alert includes the City of Portland, but also the cities of Gresham, Tigard, King City and other districts (see below for full list.)

“The chance of any health problems related to this water test result is low. If any problems occur, we would expect diarrhea,” said Dr. Paul Lewis, Interim Tri-County Health Officer. “We monitor cases of bacterial diarrhea and will be aware of any increase following this event.”

Contamination can occur when there is a loss of water pressure, a pipe breaks, or conditions that expose drinking water to outside elements, the city said.

An investigation into the problem was underway and the city would update the media at a noon press conference.

For more information, water users can call the Portland Water Bureau Customer Service at 503-823-7770.

The water bureau alerted customers in Portland and these areas:

• Burlington Water District

• City of Gresham (North of I-84)

• Lake Grove Water District

• Lorna Portland Water

• Palatine Hill Water District

• Rockwood Water District

• Tigard Water Service Area (including Durham, King City and Bull Mountain)

• Valley View Water District

• West Slope Water District 

The City of Portland Water Bureau provided these answers to common questions.

What's going on?

A boil water notice means that water from the tap should not be consumed in any form unless it has been brought to a rolling boil for a full minute. This notice is required by the State and Federal government when water quality standards are suspected of being compromised.

What do I do?

All water used for drinking, brushing teeth, gargling, food preparation, rinsing dishesand icemaking should be boiled at a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Ice or any beverages prepared with un-boiled tap water should be discarded.

Activities that require boiled water:

Washing food served without cooking or baking; adding water to food without cooking/baking; ice making; cleaning food contact surfaces.

Activities that do not require boiled water:

Showering (do not allow water in mouth); baths; laundering General cleaning, pet watering or bathing; watering plants.

How will I know when I can stop boiling water?

The boil water notice is in effect until further notification from the Water Bureau.

Will my in-home filtration system or hot water tap work as a substitute?

Filtration systems vary considerably. You should boil the water. A hot-water on demand tap will not kill the bacteria.

I own a restaurant, what do I do?

Restaurants need to observe the boil water order.

Water served to customers must be boiled for at least one minute.

This includes water used for ice making, table water, food preparation, and rinsing dishes.

Tap water combined with dish soap can be used to clean dishes, utensils and cooking ware. Boiled water must be used to rinse and clean kitchen and dining room surfaces.

Call the Multnomah County Health Department (503) 988-3663, extension 24662 for restaurant information. More information will also be available during regular business hours.