E. coli was found in the Riverpoint area of the Sallal Water Association service district, the organization announced Wednesday. All association members are required to boil their water before consumption, in order to prevent illness caused by the bacteria microbes.
The Sallal Water Association serves certain areas in and to the east of North Bend. They have about 1,700 connections and serve 5,000 people, according to their website. The City of North Bend water supply has not been contaminated.
Every week in August Sallal took routine samples, in addition to the seven samples a month required by the Department of Health (DOH), said Denny Scott, water systems superintendent for Sallal. The bacteria was not detected in those samples.
On Sept. 11, samples were again collected. The results came back on Sept. 13 and one tested positive for E. coli in the water from the Riverpoint area.
“There was no prenotice or any indication that we had a water problem,” Scott said.
Sallal took follow-up samples required by the DOH on Sept. 13. One sample still showed the presence of the bacteria. Four additional samples were taken west of the original affected site on Sept. 17. The sample collected at the sample station 468th Ave. SE had the presence of the bacteria. Another had total coliform only.
There’s no indication yet on what caused the bacteria’s presence in the water, Scott said. Tanks and hatches in the area were all secured. And last night (Sept. 18), they worked to collect 25 water samples from the entire water system. They anticipate those results — which were expedited — sometime Friday (Sept. 20) afternoon.
“It’ll help us figure out where the E. coli came from,” Scott said. “It’ll tell us if the problem is not isolated to Mount Si road area.”
E. coli is a bacteria that indicates there may be the presence of human or animal wastes. These microbes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches. E. coli can pose a higher risk to infants, young children and those with a compromised immune system.
Association members should bring water to a full boil for one minute, and let it cool before using it for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, for food preparation or washing dishes. The association wrote that the water is safe for bathing and washing landry.
Members are also asked to report if they have had any recent plumbing work done in their home or on their property and if they’ve recently repaired or noticed broken irrigation systems. This information could aid in pinpointing the source.
Since the bacteria’s discovery, Sallal has flushed the water system and chlorinated the site to eliminate the bacteria and are working closely with the DOH. If the samples return without the presence of the bacteria, Scott said at that point they will lift the boiled-water requirement and operation will continue as normal.
For three years the association has had clean water test results, outside of a November 2018 event. Last fall teenagers broke into the Terrell tank and shoved tree brush and candy wrappers inside. Since then, the tank has been secured with lights, a power-sealed enclosure on the ladder was added and an alarm on the hatch.
“The most important thing to me is safe drinking water,” Scott said. “It’s what we try to do every single day here.”
Bottled water donated by the Snoqualmie Tribe is available outside the Sallal Association office at 44021 SE Tanner Rd suite e, North Bend, WA 98045. It can also be delivered by request.