Following test results of the entire Sallal Water Association water system, a well has been shut down and a boil water advisory remains in effect.
Every customer of the water association is affected, as well as residents of Wilderness Rim.
The contaminated site is Well 2 at Rattlesnake (a source for the entire system, according to a press release). On Sept. 20, the association received results from 25 system-wide samples. It received five new E. coli-positive samples.
The association plans to treat the system with bleach and will leave the well shut down while it is treated. According to a press release, the remaining two wells in the system can serve all water association members “for many months, if necessary.”
At the earliest, Well 2 could open in early October after it is sanitized, refilled and retested.
The trouble began last week when E. coli was found in the Riverpoint area of the Sallal Water Association service district. Following tests, all association members were required to boil their water before consumption, in order to prevent illness caused by the bacteria microbes. That requirement remains.
The Sallal Water Association serves certain areas in and to the east of North Bend. It has about 1,700 connections and serves 5,000 people, according to its website. The city of North Bend water supply has not been contaminated.
Results from water samples 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,” said Denny Scott, water systems superintendent for Sallal.
Sallal took follow-up samples required by the Department of Health (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 Avenue Southeast had the presence of the bacteria. Another had total coliform only.
E. coli is a bacteria that indicates there may be the presence of human or animal wastes. The 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 laundry.
Members were asked to report if they had had any recent plumbing work done in their home or on their property and if they had recently repaired or noticed broken irrigation systems. The information was to aid in pinpointing the source.
Since the bacteria’s discovery, Sallal had flushed the water system and chlorinated the site to eliminate the bacteria and it is working closely with the DOH.
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.
The Sallal Association Board also has approved reimbursements for bottled water purchases, with a receipt. A notice from the association asks customers to wait until the boil water order has been lifted before submitting for reimbursements.