Salem water advisory continues, staff work to rid water of toxin - KPTV - FOX 12

Salem water advisory continues, staff work to rid water of toxin

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Salem’s water issues will continue into the weekend. Friday morning the city said a water advisory for children under the age of six of vulnerable people will stay in effect until Monday.

The City of Salem said that tests results received Friday morning from water samples taken on Wednesday indicated the presence of cyanotoxins in the water system above the EPA advisory levels for vulnerable populations.

Officials said two consecutive days of results below EPA advisory levels are needed before the advisory can be lifted. Staff will continue to assess water samples over the weekend.

On Friday, FOX 12 got a tour of the city’s Geren Island treatment facility. 

The facility is located near Stayton along the North Santiam River. 

“This is the first step in the treatment process,” Operations Maintenance Supervisor Tim Sherman said. 

He showed the area where the water is drawn in through fish gates and screens to sort out large debris.

Sherman said large gates open and close to allow water to flow into several five million gallon ponds. 

Once inside, the water is filtered through three feet of sand. It’s a slow process but he said each pond can filter about 20-million gallons of water a day.

The water then has chlorine, fluoride and soda ash added to it.

“Chlorine analyzers, ph and temperatures all on the far right instruments so that is monitored continuously 24-hours a day,” Sherman said. 

Since cyanotoxins were detected in the water in May, the city has been working to make adjustments to get them out.

“We’ve increased our chlorine residual in town and we have lowered our PH slightly that allows chlorine to be more effective at oxidizing this toxin,” Sherman said. 

The city said this is the first time they’ve ever had the toxin show up in treated water. They’re trying to figure out how best to get the toxins out.

“The results show that it seems to be helping, we don’t have the ability to remove all the toxins but we are reducing them,” Sherman said.

City staff said they will continue to test the water through the weekend. In the meantime, several water stations have been set up for those needing to get water. 

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