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 of Warm Springs Indian Reservation have again been told they must boil water before using it due to loss of pressure in the agency water system, the fifth time this year they have endured a cut in safe drinking water.

A loss of water pressure occurred in two places during repair work on the water system, according to a boil water notice obtained by The Bulletin. The loss of pressure increases the chance that harmful microbes can enter the water, resulting in the public warning.

The recurring problem this year highlights serious infrastructure deficiencies on the reservation, which is suffering from high levels of poverty and unemployment. In the summer, residents were told to boil their water for two months, forcing people to bath in portable showers and queue to obtain safe drinking water.

Warm Springs residents are advised to use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and preparing food until further notice, according to the latest statement.

The notice forced the local preschool to send home children two and under, as well as those not potty-trained.

“Due to the boil water notice we cannot safely care for children younger than three years old,” according to a letter sent to families by Casandra Moses, manager of the Early Childhood Education Center.

Work over the summer included repair of a broken main line that runs through Shitike Creek, as well as replacement of pressure reducing valves throughout the system. While the emergency repair measures restarted the flow of clean drinking water, more work is needed on the reservation water pipes for a long-term solution.

The notice is expected to remain in place through Wednesday, according to the statement. Similar to earlier boil water notices, tribal residents are being offered free bottled water from a distribution center on the Warm Springs campus. Water distribution will be available until the boil water notice is lifted.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, mkohn@bendbulletin.com

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