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Tuesday, October 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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One-third of the 300 residents affected by water contamination in Hillyard remain without clean water

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 1, 2019, 10:48 p.m.

City of Spokane Water Department employee Brett Imholt flushes a hydrant, Tuesday, July 30, 2019, on Myrtle Street outside of Easy Acres Mobile Home Village. The latest tests on the village’s water come back Friday morning. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
City of Spokane Water Department employee Brett Imholt flushes a hydrant, Tuesday, July 30, 2019, on Myrtle Street outside of Easy Acres Mobile Home Village. The latest tests on the village’s water come back Friday morning. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The city of Spokane lifted its no-drink order in Hillyard Wednesday, but more than 100 residents of Easy Acres Mobile Home Village remained unable to drink tap water as of Thursday night.

The continued uncertainty about whether the water is safe to drink is because the mobile home park’s plumbing system is private.

While the city was able to determine the water in its meters was clear of contamination on Wednesday, the mobile home park has continued to have issues with clogged pipes and has not determined whether attempts to flush its system have worked.

Easy Acre’s ongoing no-drink order could change as soon as Friday morning, when the city expects to have its latest water samples back.

The city estimates 120 mostly commercial properties and 300 residents were affected by water contamination that apparently came from a hydroseed vehicle backflowing a slurry of mulch, seed and fertilizer into a city fire hydrant.

That contamination included three water samples that tested positive for E. coli on Saturday.

But even after subsequent tests of water coming out of city meters were negative for E. coli, officials told Easy Acres residents not to drink tap water until it could collect more samples from the park’s private water system.

“Always we err on the side of precaution,” city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.

But residents of the village said they feel like they’ve been left hanging out to dry.

“Everybody was saying, ‘You have clean water now!’ I said, ‘But actually we don’t,’ ” Easy Acres resident Mikayla Bloomer said Thursday.

No one outside the village has reported issues with water since the no-drink order was lifted, Feist said.

Feist compared the issue of using a private water system to the city not being able to snow plow private streets in the winter.

“Technically, that’s not our responsibility,” Feist said. “That’s the responsibility you take on when you have a private system.”

She said the city has already done more than is required to help the park resolve its issues.

“We’ve gone over and above because that’s what we do,” Feist said. “We’ve been trying to be as good of a neighbor as we can.”

City water crews helped the park’s construction workers, who were previously working to install a number of new mobile homes, dig up lines and detach homes and also chlorinated and flushed the system.

Feist said the city also cleaned individual parts in some mobile homes, took water samples for lab testing and dropped off 96 cases of water bottles over the last couple of days.

But then, a few hours after the no-drink order was lifted on Wednesday, city workers said they no longer had the time or resources to help the village detach and unclog each home’s pipes like they had promised, according to residents.

Steve Goldfrick, a water department foreman, told The Spokesman-Review Tuesday that crews would go to each home to make sure there were no clogs in their lines after the water coming out of the village’s main water line was clean.

Residents said the city told them Wednesday that the most they could do was chlorinate the system and run water through it once all the homes were detached.

“The only thing that I’m upset about, per se, is not having clean water for my kids to shower or play in,” Bloomer said.

Water samples taken Thursday should be back early Friday morning. If they come back negative, Easy Acres residents will be able to start drinking tap water.

Bloomer said even if the tests come back clean, she and a few other homeowners will have to fix clogs from debris in their systems that have left them without running water since July 26.

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