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October 4, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Mercer Island to residents: keep boiling water

Mercer Island’s boil-water advisory remains in effect Saturday, and it is still unclear when it will be lifted.

Test results from 18 water samples collected Friday, including seven from residential properties, revealed no presence of E. coli or other bacteria. Thursday’s samples were also clear.

Another 18 samples were collected Saturday, to be analyzed overnight. The results should be available Sunday, officials said.

When E. coli first appeared in water on Mercer Island last week, the protocol was to lift a boil-water advisory after samples were clear for two consecutive days. However, when the E. coli reappeared after four days, the agencies involved decided to adjust that protocol to be sure the same thing doesn’t happen again, said Cmdr. Leslie Burns of the Mercer Island Police Department.

“There are just so many areas that could be the source of contamination that we are going down the list and checking off every single one,” Burns said. “That doesn’t happen overnight.”

Saturday morning, dive crews inspected Mercer Island’s two water reservoirs and distributed additional chlorine pellets on the floor of the tanks, but results of their inspection are not yet available. The city and Seattle Public Utility crews also continue to inspect valves and flush water lines.

A total of 17 restaurants and stores are now open on the island with limited menus, and others are pending. The full list can be found at the city’s website.

Mo’s Pizza received the all-clear from the health department to open with a limited menu at noon Friday, but customers have been scarce, shift manager Steve Teborek said Saturday.

“It has been one of the slowest weekends on record for our business,” said Teborek, who has worked at the Italian restaurant for four years. “I don’t know if people are making alternate plans, or if they are unsure of the status of the restaurants on the island, but it has been dead.”

Because the restaurant can’t use its ice machine, soda fountain or coffee maker, employees are serving soda from 2-liter bottles, and offering bottled water. Homemade lemonade and ice tea are currently off the menu, he said.

Pizzas and pasta are still on the menu because they are heated to high enough temperatures, but “no fresh produce, so no salads,” he said.

The city continues to distribute free bottled water during the day for anyone of limited means at the community center. Grocery stores are fully stocked with bottled water and Whole Foods Market is allowing residents to use its in-store filtered water machines at the South Lake Union and Bellevue locations.

Mercer Island schools will be in session on Monday, according to the Mercer Island School District.

Comments | Topics: E. coli, Mercer Island, water


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