Liberty Lake residents likely will have to boil their water for about a week as officials continue to investigate the source of E. coli contamination in the city’s water.
The presence of E. coli was first detected in a fire hydrant early Wednesday. It was then found in another area around East Appleway Avenue and North Swing Lane, said Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District general manager BiJay Adams.
He said recent tests had not detected E. coli, but there was still a boil order in place as a precaution. That water district, an entity separate from the city of Liberty Lake’s government, serves about 10,000 people.
Harold Rehbock, manager at Yoke’s Fresh Market, said the water district contacted the store earlier Wednesday to let them know it may need to stock up on water. The grocery was able to order a few dozen pallets of bottled water before the anticipated rush of customers. He said the store went through about 20 pallets of water Wednesday, and another three Thursday. He said the store usually sells less than one in a day.
Residents who may have trouble boiling water, or may not be able to purchase it at the store, can get water delivered from the water district. They can call (509) 922-5443 for questions on water delivery.
There are also several pick-up locations where water customers who may be facing economic hardship or barriers to purchasing water can pick up bottled water: Liberty Lake City Hall, the Liberty Lake Municipal Library, Spokane Valley Fire Station 3 and the Liberty Lake Water District, 2218 N. Harvard Road.
The water district has tried to contact customers through email and using the city’s emergency system, but one, Marcia Mielke, said she’s concerned many people in Liberty Lake, especially older customers, may still not know. She said she found out when a friend texted her and that she is still looking for information about how it happened.
“I’m curious and concerned about all the people who don’t know about it,” she said.
Adams said the water district has a staff of 13. While it’s impossible for them to go door to door to inform each customer, he said they are doing what they can to keep customers updated. He said they have isolated where they found contamination and are still investigating. He said the the district has disinfected and flushed the fire hydrant and also chlorinated the entire system.
Customers served by the Consolidated Irrigation District No. 19, which serves the Northwestern corner of Liberty Lake, are not affected.
Liberty Lake residents should avoid brushing their teeth and cooking with unboiled water, and should only drink bottled or boiled water. The district will notify customers when the boil order is lifted.
This story was updated on Nov. 22 to clarify that Consolidated Irrigation District No. 19 serves some Liberty Lake residents and that the district hopes to the boil order lifted in about a week.
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