Health

Trace level of toxins found in Wilsonville water

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) -- While the City of Salem and some of its neighbors continue to live under advisory for some not to drink tap water, other communities are finding the same toxins in their water supply.

One out of four test samples at the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant showed a raised level of toxins. Samples have been sent out for further testing to determine if an advisory is necessary.

The facility distributes 4 to 5 million gallons of water daily to Wilsonville and Sherwood. As a precaution, Public Works Director Delora Kerber said they are increasing treating in a process they already use called ozonation, which helps destroy toxins.

"It takes the algae toxins and it basically beats it up and makes it into a bunch of little smaller pieces," Kerber said. 

She said the levels detected could be a false positive, but even if they aren't, the water is still safe to drink if you don't have a weakened immune system.

"The particular amount that we are talking about is only a concern for vulnerable populations, so healthy adults it would really not impact," Kerber said. 

Officials have let residents know about the trace levels of cyanotoxin and microcystin but no advisory has been issued as of Friday night. 

That didn't stop residents from stocking up on bottled water, clearing shelves at Sherwood and Wilsonville grocery stores.

"There were only two more shelves left full of water, so I bought as much as I could," Sherwood resident Trina Allen said. 

The Wilsonville Fred Meyer was having a hard time keeping water stocked.

"They have been having someone on it for at least every hour, going back through and refilling it," Jennifer Edmondson said.

West Linn-Wilsonville and Sherwood schools brought in bottled water for anyone in the group under advisory in Marion County. The Coffee Creek Correctional Facility is doing the same. 

Officials in Salem said tap water is safe for children over the age of 6 and healthy adults. People with compromised immune systems, liver conditions or are receiving dialysis, pregnant or nursing mothers, pets and other sensitive populations should follow the advisory.

Residents who are under the advisory should use bottled water for drinking, making infant formula, making ice and preparing food and beverages. Everyone else can drink the water.

The toxins are not absorbed through skin, so using tap water to wash dishes, hands and laundry is safe.

Boiling water will not destroy the toxins and may actually increase them. 

The Oregon National Guard set up 2,000-gallon water tanks where people can get free water around the clock until the advisory is lifted: 

Wallace Marine Park, 200 Glen Creek Rd. NW, Salem
Oregon State Fairgrounds, 2330 17th St. NE, Salem
Bush’s Pasture Park, Mission St. entrance, 600 Mission St. SE, Salem
Woodmansee Park, 4629 Sunnyside Rd. SE, Salem 
Chemeketa Community College, Brown Parking Lot, 4000 Lancaster Drive NE, Salem
AMF Firebird Lanes, 4303 Center Street NE, Salem
Former Chevrolet Dealership, 5325 Denver Street, Turner 


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