City of Gresham affected north of Interstate 84, Rockwood

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: CITY OF GRESHAM - This is a map of the portion of Gresham that is affected by the boil water notice.All residents living in the Portland and a potion of Gresham residents have been asked to boil their tap water until further notice due to bacteria found in the water during the past three-days.

Dr. Paul Lewis, Interim tri-county health officer, said the chance of any health problems related to the contaminated water is low.

“If any problems occur, we would expect diarrhea," Lewis said.

The Oregon Health Authority's Drinking Water Program required the city of Portland to issue a boil water notice to the public at around 10:50 a.m. Friday, May 23.

All Portland Water Bureau customers should boil all tap water used for drinking, food preparation, brushing teeth 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 affected area of East Multnomah county includes the portion of gresham north of Interestate 84, and the Rockwood area. (See the map that accompanies this story.)

In response to the contaminated water, the Gresham-Barlow School District has shut down the drinking water system at Clear Creek Middle School, 219 N.E. 219th Ave., the only school in the district affected. The school's food service department has made adjustments to allow lunch to be served as scheduled.

The city of Troutdale issued a release at 1:28 p.m., reporting that the city's drinking water is safe to drink and is not impacted by boil water notice. The city of Troutdale owns and operates its own well system and is not connected to the Portland water system.

According to officials, repeat samples taken from drinking water in three separate incidents from May 20 to May 23 confirmed the presence of coliform and E. coli.

The water samples that tested positive for bacteria were collected from two Mount Tabor reservoirs, and at the Southeast Second Avenue and Salmon Street water sampling stations. Both reservoirs have been taken offline, officials said.

Officials said that using boiled and bottled water is a good idea until the Water Bureau determines the water is clean and free of contamination. People will be notified when they no longer have to boil their water.

"While we believe at this time that the potential health risk is relatively small, we take any contamination seriously and are taking every precaution to protect public health," said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff.

A press conference will be held at noon today at Portland's Emergency Coordination Center, 9911 S.E. Bush Street.

Detailed maps, fact sheets and additional information can be found on the Water Bureau's website at or by calling Customer Service at 503-823-7770.

The Portland Water Bureau collects approximately 240 routine bacterial samples per month throughout the system.

The test to determine the presence of bacteria takes about 18 hours. It is not unusual for one of these samples to test positive for bacteria. Samples to confirm possible contamination are collected immediately after an initial detection of the presence of bacteria in drinking water.

Once the detection has been confirmed, public health officials recommend that the public boil all tap water before consuming.

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

The Portland Water Bureau is performing a full investigation to identify the cause of the contamination. However, it is not always possible to make an exact determination.

Customers can visit to determine if their home or business is in the boil-water notice area.

The Boil Water Notice, fact sheets and contact information are provided on this same website. For more information, affected customers should contact the Portland Water Bureau Customer Service at 503-823-7770. Do not call 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency. Follow updates on Twitter at #PDXBOIL.

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