Residents Refusing to Drink Fecal Contaminated Water

We've been following the story about the state of Oregon deeming water wells north of Milton-Freewater a health risk due to fecal contamination.

The one to two mile stretch that is affected may have to be annexed into the city so that people have access to city water and sewage lines.

The Oregon Health Authority released testing results of more than a dozen water wells where it found E.Coli and coliform and now, people are making sure not to drink the water coming out of their faucets.

Mark Mccallun has been living at the Locust Mobile Home Park in Umatilla County for one year and said ever since he heard about fecal contamination in the water coming through his faucets, he sticks with drinking filtered water.

"I don't even give my Chinese pug that water, he drinks bottled water as well," said Mccallun.

The park's manager, Ali Peck, recently got certified online to treat the water well.

Every morning, she tests the water levels and pressure and adds chlorine to kill the harmful bacteria.

Peck said she doesn't drink the water but she does shower and brush her teeth with it and has advice for her tenants.

"If they want to boil their water, it's completely up to them, but they know about the situation and I recommend always drinking bottled water," said Peck.

Because oregon has deemed the water a health risk, a process laid out in a state statute reads: If conditions dangerous to public health exist in a territory bordering a city, the territory may be annexed without a vote of the property owner.

That bordering city of course, being Milton-Freewater.

The city says its worried about how everything will play out.

With annexation, City Manager Linda Hall said costs could be upwards of $10,000,000, much of that money would go to extending those water and sewage lines underneath Oregon Route 11.

I asked Hall where the city would get that money.

"Lida, we don't have that kind of money, it could bankrupt us," said Hall.

However, for people who live in the park, like Mccallun, cost is not an issue and if something doesn't change, he has an idea.

"There's no question in my mind what I would do, I would shut this park down," said Mccallun.

As far as where this fecal contamination may have originated, we may never know for sure.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, fecal contamination can come from malfunctioning septic systems, animal waste or surface water containing fecal contamination infiltrating the groundwater aquifer.

It will be a while before any of that any decision if made on the annexation.

The city of Milton-Freewater says the public hearing to discuss it will probably be at the end of summer after the city has collected all of the information it needs.

Local and Regional News

Photo Galleries

This Week's Circulars