Warm Springs residents again told to boil drinking water

Flint Scott, a Warm Springs tribal member, moves a rack of 5-gallon containers of water while working at the distribution center in August 2019. The water was collected in 2019 when residents were asked to boil their water before they used it.

Residents on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation were advised Thursday to boil water before using it due to a break in the agency’s water delivery system.

The boil water notice was issued after a mainline break where the water pipes cross Shitike Creek, according to a statement issued by the public utilities branch of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. The break could allow harmful microbes into the water system, which if consumed could cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms, and could pose a special health risk to infants, the elderly people with compromised immune systems.

Warm Springs was placed on boil water notices on multiple occasions last year due to breaks in the water infrastructure that required emergency repairs in Shitike Creek. This year, Warm Springs has the added problem of COVID-19 cases — 57 people have tested positive on the reservation, said Louie Pitt, director of government affairs and planning for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

“It’s really difficult with COVID because we are asking people to wash their hands often and such, and the water might not be clean,” said Pitt. “It’s scary and the heat is turning up, about two days ago it was 100 degrees and it’s going to be in the 90s again, so it’s worrisome, worrisome if you are a homeowner,” Pitt added.

Water crews will be making repairs to the 8-inch pipe Thursday, according to the statement.

The repairs are expected to be completed by July 3. Recharging the system will require an additional 24 hours after completion of the repairs.

The agency’s statement advises residents to “boil water indefinitely or until the problem is fixed.” Warm Springs has 14,000 gallons of clean water in reserve, which will likely last 3-4 days, said Danny Martinez, emergency manager for the reservation. Martinez said he is working on acquiring more bottled water for the stockpile.

The areas affected by the notice include Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, Wolfe Point, Sunnyside, Dry Creek, the Warm Springs industrial park, Miller Heights, the Campus, Greely Heights, the senior center, Tenino Valley, West Hills, Tenino Apartments and the U.S. Highway 26 corridor, which includes the Indian Head Casino, Eagle Crossing and The Museum at Warm Springs.

Reporter: 541-617-7818,

mkohn@bendbulletin.com

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