Clean results for Outlook water tests

State launches investigation on water issue

The second time proved a charm Tuesday, as all tests show no contaminants in potable water supplies.

Five private wells and a public system were tested.

The water testing stems from a berm breach on farmland at 431 Nichols Road last week.

Residents in the area have been restricted to bottled water since water that had been held back by the berm covered roads, driveways, yards and flooded some basements.

The public system, which serves more than 100 people, initially tested positive for coliform. A second test came back clean, state Department of Health spokeswoman Liz Coleman said yesterday.

The state Department of Agriculture tested results released yesterday showed no contaminants, spokesman Hector Castro said.

But officials still caution residents not to drink the water.

“We’re following the Department of Health protocol to have two clean tests before there’s confidence the water is safe to drink,” Castro said.

Health officials are asking those in the impacted areas to not even boil their tap water because it will not kill all contaminants.

Officials went door-to-door to conduct the first round of private well testing, Castro said.

“At least one resident turned us away,” he said. “There were some we didn’t test because they were on the community well.”

The state Department of Ecology will handle the second batch of tests for private wells that serve individual households, Castro said.

Coleman said the public well operator flushed that system following the first test showing coliform.

And that may have resolved the issue.

Bennett Osborne performs maintenance on the public well, known as the Outlook Community Water system, he said the well itself tested clean the first time.

The result showing coliform was from a sample elsewhere in the system, he said.

The Department of Agriculture is investigating the berm breach.

“We want to know not just what happened, but were there any violations in terms of rules regulating surface water?” Castro said. “Did anyone do something wrong? We don’t know that.”

He said it could take up to 90 days to complete the investigation, which includes sampling surface water.

There could be fines if violations are found, Castro said.

Genny DeRuyter operates DeRuyter and Bros. Dairy with husband Jake. They own the farm land where the breach occurred, and she maintains the water was clean when it left their berm.

The land had not had a manure application since last fall, she said.

However, water spread from the berm to Snipes Mountain Dairy fields that had recently received manure applications, Dairy Nutrient Management Program Director Virginia Prest said.


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