Toxin returns to Salem drinking water, distribution sites set up

(KPTV Image)

Four days after a water advisory in Salem was lifted, lab test results on Wednesday showed low levels of cyanotoxins in the tap water.

Wednesday morning the city issued the advisory that children under the age of six and vulnerable populations should not drink the tap water.

The water advisory was issued for the City of Salem, City of Turner, Suburban East Salem Water District and Orchard Heights Water Association.

The city said one of 12 sites they tested showed toxins in the water. Salem City Manager Steve Powers said the earliest the advisory could be lifted is Friday. He also said they need two days of clean tests before the advisory will be lifted.

Shortly after the announcement, the city began setting up water stations across the city to help those affected by the advisory.

Tirza Morgan was one of many who lined up to get water Wednesday afternoon at Bush’s Pasture Park.

“I classify as immune compromised so it is good, helpful because who knows how long this is going to last,” Morgan said.

Betsy Steinberg was another. She was picking up water for her mother.

“I just bought a bunch of water on Saturday but not knowing how long it is gonna last I thought I better get some backup,” Steinberg said.

The city said the toxins are getting into the drinking water from blue-green algae blooms in Detroit Lake.

The city manager said they have been making different changes at their water treatment plant to try and filter out the toxin. They are expecting more test results back on Thursday.

The Oregon Health Authority is also working on a temporary rule to require testing for cyanotoxins.

OHA sent the following statement to FOX 12.

“Oregon Health Authority is pursuing the development of a temporary rule that would require major drinking water systems in the state using certain surface water sources, such as those prone to regular blue-green algae blooms, to routinely test for cyanotoxins that blue-green algae blooms produce and provide public notification on the results of those tests. These rules are expected to be in place by the end of June and would remain in effect until permanent rules can be established later this year following a thorough and public rulemaking process. In the meantime, OHA is encouraging these water systems to voluntarily collect water samples from higher-risk surface water sources, have them tested for cyanotoxins and notify the public about the results.”

Free drinking water is available at multiple locations in the city of Salem: Wallace Marine Park, 200 Glen Creek Road NW, Salem Oregon State Fairgrounds, 2330 17th St. NE, Salem Bush’s Pasture Park, Mission Street entrance, 600 Mission St. SE, Salem Woodmansee Park, 4629 Sunnyside Road SE, SalemThe sites will operate around the clock until further notice. All bottled water distribution locations are pull-through, one case per vehicle for vulnerable populations.

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