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Water Today Title November 25, 2017

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BWA of the Day



The City of Mercer Island, WA, located in the Seattle Metropolitan Area, has been hit by two consecutive Boil Water Advisories in the last week. When E.coli and coliform bacteria were detected in water samples during routine testing on September 28, all 24,000 Mercer Island residents were told to boil their tap water and all public schools and restaurants ordered to close.

The city lifted the advisory on September 29, but new evidence of E.coli was detected on October 2 and a second BWA was issued. Although all 62 of the Island's restaurants were ordered to remain closed, they were also given the option of re-opening with a limited menu, in consultation with Public Heath.

"Any menu item has to be pre-approved by a King County Public Health Official," says Scott Putnam, manager of the Islander restaurant. "An official came in and told us that any food item that requires washing, like raw vegetables, cannot be used. We can only serve packaged food such as hamburger and cheese slices, and are using only bottled water and bagged ice. No, none of the stores have upped the price of their bottled water."

Putnam consults the city's website for updates and likes the city's transparent response. ( see Mercer Island website for updates)

Yet, the source of the bacteria remains a mystery.

"Right now, they have divers checking out the reservoir, and once the advisory is off the city will be adding chlorine," says Putnam. "Who know, it could a deliberate act or a sprinkler with no back flow protection."

According to Putnam, the island's original water infrastructure dates back to the 50s, but there has been a great deal of construction on the island in the last while.

"Our daily intake is usually $6 to $7,000, but we've had five days with no sales, I just put 8 prime ribs in the freezer and we're throwing away about $300 worth of food every day."

"I don't know," he says," but I think the insurance will cover the losses. Yesterday was better, we took in $2,000."

Tests results that came back over the weekend were all clean, but the city is maintaining the boil order until the source of the contamination is found.

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