Unregulated water supply has E.coli

By Pat Jenkins The Dispatch Health officials say a roadside source of water near Ohop Lake is tainted with E.coli and are trying to stop people from drinking it. The water apparently comes from a spring or other natural but unofficial source. It flows like an open faucet from the end of a system of pipes extending from a wooded hillside on Orville Road, next to the lake near Eatonville. Pierce County water-quality officials have placed temporary barricades at the site along with signs that state "Non-potable waterGÇ¥ and "Do not drink.GÇ¥ The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department plans to also post warning signs, possibly this week. Meanwhile, the concern is that people are still collecting the water for drinking or other personal uses. Edie Jeffers, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said the barricades have been moved or ignored by people. "We are working to determine the next steps on the access issue,GÇ¥ she said. According to some residents in the area, the water is the only source for some people who have no running water at their homes or are homeless. Residents contacted The Dispatch via Facebook last week about the water. One of them said "a ton of people have used this spring for years. A few weeks back, the county came and blocked it, posted signs saying not potable, do not drink, etc. Can you find out why? I know people are upset and not getting the answers.GÇ¥ Jeffers said last Wednesday that the Health Department has "been in communication with (residents) on this issue,GÇ¥ which stems from water-quality testing. The most recent in September "and other tests over the past year have shown E.coli in this water source,GÇ¥ she said. "To protect their health and safety, it's important for residents to find an alternative drinking water source, as the spring is not a Health Department-approved source.GÇ¥ There are multiple strains of the E.coli bacteria. Most are harmless, according to health authorities such as the national Centers for Disease Control, but others can make people sick by causing diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia. At their most extreme, E.coli illnesses require hospitalization and can cause death. Although not related to the E.coli issue, Ohop Lake, with a shoreline just a few feet from where the spring flows, was posted for several months this year with advisory warnings from the Health Department about the presence in the lake of naturally occurring, toxic algae that can make people and animals sick if they swallow it. -á


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