Boil Order continues for thousands in North Bend; Sallal says untreated water ‘likely’ no longer offered

UPDATE | SEPTEMBER 27TH, 1PM

Here’s the latest update from Sallal: Water system operators have been manually adding disinfectant to the distribution system for the past week.  Disinfection system equipment was installed at Well #3 last Friday and at Well #1 yesterday. The chlorine pump for Well #2 arrived Thursday afternoon, September 26th. The final parts are being installed at the well Friday September 27th.  They will be testing throughout the weekend.  After the automatic pumps are all online, sampling can begin for the Department of Health.  When two sets of samples, taken 24 hours apart, return with satisfactory results, the boil advisory can be lifted.  Sallal estimates that the advisory can be lifted Friday, October 4th or Saturday, October 5th if all samples return satisfactory.

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ORIGINAL STORY

It’s estimated that a couple hundred people attended the emergency membership meeting called by the Sallal Water Association Wednesday night, September 25, 2019 in the Snoqualmie Casino Ballroom to discuss the e.coli contamination that forced a continuing boil water order for about 5,000 North Bend residents.

The system-wide boil order went into effect on September 18th, after first only impacting 82 homes in the Riverpointe neighborhood. Multiple sampling stations subsequently produced positive e.coli hits late last week, including Rattlesnake Well #2 – one of three sources for the entire Sallal system.

During the meeting Sallal revealed it may never know the exact source of the contamination. According to a meeting summary, “The Department of Health said it’s rare to ever find out the cause of these types of events.” Sallal did say, though, there have not been any recent break-ins at any of its facilities.

Since the positive e.coli hit in well #2, all subsequent tests have come back clean. There have not been any positive hits in Rattlesnake Well #1 or #3. All testing was conducted at an independent testing facility in Tacoma.

The Boil Water order will most likely continue until early next week.

Last Friday staff began manually putting disinfectant into water reservoirs, but couldn’t schedule the installation of an automated chlorination system until September 25th. As soon as a required, system-wide chlorine level is reached, more testing will be done. Once two clean water sample sets are achieved, the DOH will remove the boil water advisory.

In the meantime, well #2 will remain off. It will require additional inspection and testing before it can be brought back online. Sallal said it has enough water with wells 1 and 3 to serve customers for many months. They will work to get well 2 back in service as soon as possible, though, as there is a risk of not having backup if anything else goes wrong or an equipment failure happens at the two remaining wells.

The Department of Health is requiring Sallal to begin permanent chlorine treatment of well 2 due to the e.coli hit. Because the Sallal Water System circulates water from all three wells, it means offering untreated water may no longer be an option.

Sallal said, “There may be ways to be allowed to go back to untreated water in the future, if we can satisfy all DOH requirements.”

If Sallal has to disinfect for the longterm, the association said it will also work with DOH to find alternatives to chlorine – like ultraviolet light or ozone – and research pros and cons of viable alternatives.

Visit the Sallal Water website for more information on the boil water advisory, Q&A from Wednesday’s meeting, water reimbursements, flushing your water system when the boil order is lifted and more: www.sallal.com

Sallal Water Test Map

Sallal Water Assc. meeting 9/25/19. Photo: Cynthia Tracy Facebook

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