Outlook water deemed safe for elementary students

OUTLOOK - For a few days last week it looked like Outlook Elementary School children would be drinking bottled water after it was discovered the school's water supply had been contaminated.

This morning (Tuesday) the Sunnyside School District announced the discontinuation of the bottled water directive issued last Friday.

"The water has now tested clean," said Braven Bendzak, the district's facility director.

Bendzak said the district took immediate steps to prevent the use of the school's well water when recent water samples failed tests for nitrates.

The Washington State Department of Health was notified and the district worked closely with the state Office of Drinking Water to find the sources of the contamination, he explained.

"We always check the water supply before the start of school, shocking it with chlorine to kill any bacteria which may have developed in the water lines over the summer months," Bendzak explained.

"Our first water sample proved to be clean, but several days later we found that the water showed signs of contamination," he said.

An investigation of the school's water lines found the problem was originating in the lines coming from the school's portable units, Bendzak said.

"Normally, all the lines are flushed with chlorine, but somehow the portable lines were overlooked," he said.

In order to avoid a similar situation in the future, Bendzak's staff has installed a chlorinator to the water supply to provide a steady supply of chlorine to the system.

This past Saturday, the test water samples showed an absence of the contamination and the decision to lift the bottled water advisory was made.

Bendzak said no reports of illness were attributed to the failed water tests.

The bottled water advisory was only in place one day, said Dr. Rick Cole, Sunnyside School Superintendent.

"We worked closely with the state health department to complete the inspections, water samples and disinfecting of the system as quickly as possible," Cole said.

"We're pleased to have lifted the one-day advisory," he said.


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