The Water Bureau found two dead birds in one of the open reservoirs on Mt. Tabor where a positive Total Coliform E Coli helped trigger a boil water alert two weeks ago.

The dead birds were found in Reservoir 1. Water Bureau officials cannot say whether the dead birds were responsible for the positive sample found at that reservoir.

But a positive sample was also found at a different reservoir on Mt. Tabor, Reservoir 5. And a positive sample was found at a third test location.

None of the positive samples were confirmed by follow-up tests. Normally, a confirming test sample is needed to trigger a boil water alert. But the Oregon Health Authority triggered the alert because so many positive samples — three — were found in a short time.

Water bureau spokesman Tim Hall issued the following statement Wednesday:

The Portland Water Bureau made a commitment that if we found anything while cleaning the two open reservoirs at Mt. Tabor, we would report this to you. This is to follow-up on the question of whether the bureau has been able to identify the cause of the

As we noted during and following the boil water incident, we did an environmental scan around the reservoirs and at the Water Quality Sampling Station at SE 2nd Avenue and SE Salmon Street when the positive results came back. We found nothing that could be cited as the cause for the positive test results.

We also indicated that we would look for obvious potential causes when we drained and cleaned the reservoirs. Reservoir 1 was drained and cleaned with no evidence of obvious contamination. However, when staff drained and began cleaning Reservoir 5 last week, they discovered a dead bird at the bottom of the reservoir at the outlet’s “mud ring” — a concrete curb designed to hold back natural sediments (mud) and debris. Water flows over the mud ring and into the outlet pipe, but the mud and debris get hung up on the curb. The bird was found at the base of the ring. The decayed remains of a second bird were also found stuck to the liner on the other end of the reservoir.

We cannot determine with certainty that the dead birds were the cause for the positive tests from Reservoir 5, but again, we did promise to let you know if we found anything. Since the pipe connection between Reservoir 1 and 5 was closed at the time, we can state with relative certainty that the Reservoir 1 positive test result was not caused by the dead birds found in Reservoir 5.

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