Crooked River Ranch Water Co. on Friday lifted its day-old, precautionary boil-water advisory, imposed due to a major outage earlier this week, though it had been a challenge to get the word out to all 1,500 residents of the sprawling rural subdivision.
CRR Water officials said Friday that the test results after the outage had come back negative for any forms of harmful total coliform or E. coli bacteria.
Resident Jim Henderson told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday there was a small sign on a barricade at the entrance to the ranch, but other than that, "no one said anything."
But Henderson said both his wife and a neighbor had experienced diarrhea symptoms, after the water outage hit on Tuesday, and didn't know of the possible connection until he happened upon the small sign on Thursday.
Water company Manager Frank Day said a large pipe burst "with the water going everywhere" on Tuesday, which knocked out water service from 3:30 a.m. until repairs were completed and service resorted about 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Day said the 38-year old pipe burst because it was under stress, a rock had shifted around and caused it to break.
"We had to empty about 3,000 gallons of water before we could even start doing a repair," Day said. But he said steps were taken to isolate the problem and prevent any contamination, and then they "sterilized all the lines" when it wa restored.
However, word came from the state Thursday morning, directing the water company to issue the boil water advisory.
Day said Deschutes County 911 dispatch rejected their request to use the automated emergency phone notification system to notify residents. So it's been posted on several CRR Websites, a reader board at the fire station and elsewhere in the community.
"We are trying to get the word out as quick as we can," he said. "With 1,500 residents, it's very difficult."
Deschutes County 911 Director Rob Porier said Friday that while he was not involved in the sequence of events, it sounds like "a bit of a miscommunication issue."
"In fact, we didn't refuse to do it, but because we have to have some assurances, security measures to launch, we have to assure it's legitimate," Porier said. He said the water company manager was asked to contact the fire chief or sheriff to authorize the emergency phone alert launch.
:"We have to make sure it has a high level of integrity," Porier said, adding, "Once we're sure it's legitimate, we don't give a rip about the billing. We weren't refusing, we just needed it to go through proper channels," to avoid misuse of the system.
Here's the notice, issued Thursday and lifted Friday, in full:
DRINKING WATER WARNING
Crooked River Ranch Water Company could be contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria
BOIL YOUR WATER BEFORE USING
Due to loss of water pressure in the distribution system on June 19th, 2012 potentially harmful bacteria could be present in the water supply. These bacteria could make you sick, and are a particular concern for people with weakened immune systems.
What should I do?
DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one full minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
Potentially harmful bacteria include Fecal coliforms and E. coli which are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
The symptoms above are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.
What happened? What is being done?
Bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source (for example, following heavy rains). It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process.
We have been flushing the system and are performing water test. We will remove the boil water notice off the website and the signs will come down when tests show no bacteria and you no longer need to boil your water. We anticipate resolving the problem within 24 hours.