More than a month after our first reports about discolored water at different points around West Seattle, it’s still being reported here and there, so we have an update this afternoon from Seattle Public Utilities.
(WSB September photo, Myrtle Reservoir)
First, regarding Myrtle Reservoir, considered indirectly to blame because it had been emptied for earthquake-resistance upgrades, and that led to some rerouting in the Seattle Public Utilities System, which was suspected of “stirring up sediment that can lead to temporary discoloration,” according to SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin, who tells WSB today, “Myrtle Reservoir has been cleaned, disinfected and refilled with water. We are now waiting on the results of the water quality samples taken from the reservoir yesterday. Assuming the samples come back satisfactory, the reservoir will be back in service tomorrow (10/30). Bringing Myrtle back on line may help solve the problem of discolored water for some customers. But we’ll know more after the reservoir has been back in operation for a few weeks.”
In our most-recent update, SPU also had confirmed that because of the drought, it’s been drawing water from its well field north of Sea-Tac Airport, a different water source from the Cedar River Watershed. Overall, Goodwin continues: “Regular bacteriological samples in the area continue to come back satisfactory – indicating that the water remains safe to drink. Since the end of September, we have been taking water quality samples and analyzing for metals, pH, chlorine, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature and color at the wells and at eight additional sites in West Seattle and Georgetown. Results from this supplemental water quality sampling in West Seattle continue to show the water is safe and meets drinking water standards.” (Those wells will be turned off “when Seattle’s water supply conditions return to normal,” but that doesn’t seem close yet.)
So what to do if you get odd-colored water? SPU says 39 customers reported it from October 20th to 27th “in the general West Seattle and Georgetown/SODO area.” Here’s what to do if it happens: “We encourage customers to continue to report problems with their drinking water to SPU by calling the 24/7 Operations Response Center at 206-386-1800. Reporting the problem as soon as it is noticed helps our water quality inspectors in their investigation to pinpoint the cause.” Goodwin also reiterates that discolored water has other causes, including when the fire department operates hydrants (this may have been the case with the recent fires in W. Seattle) or contractors open hydrants on construction projects. Leaks and breaks in water lines can also cause temporary discolored water.”