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New E. Coli tests negative on Mercer Island, boil water advisory remains in place

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MERCER ISLAND — On what would have typically been a bustling Sunday morning Mercer Island looked more like a ghost town.

All of the city’s restaurants and coffee shops were closed because of the boil water advisory.

“We walk about three or four miles and come down here and have a cup of coffee and go back but today no coffee,” Mercer island resident Larry Rolstad said.

The advisory was issued Saturday afternoon after routine tests came back positive for E. Coli.

Everyone on the island advised to boil water before drinking.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s a hassle. I have to be very conscious and think long and hard especially things like brushing my teeth,” Mercer Island resident Joan Franklin said.

Data pix.

The advisory led to a run on stores that sell bottled water.

Within hours many store shelves were empty.

For most it's just an inconvenience.

"We were a little afraid to take a shower but we did, making sure that no water went into our mouths and brushing with the bottled water,” Mercer Island resident Julie Ogata said.

For others it’s a little more serious.

"We were at Swedish and my daughter was delivering her child and we were in the middle of labor and discovered we were going to come home and have no water and was told by the Pediatrician that she couldn't even wash her baby unless she had bottled water,” Franklin said.

With bottled water so scarce; Amazon stepped in to help.

The company provided free water at the Mercer Island Community Center.

"This is very nice of Amazon to do this for our community,” Ogata said.

Seattle Public Utilities provides water to Mercer Island and says any contamination is limited to the Island.

E coli in a water system is not unheard of, but it rarely happens.

The City of Seattle tests water samples 800 times every month and state and local agencies work tirelessly to make sure drinking water is safe.

“We inspect facilities to make sure they are maintained in a sanitary condition and they're operated correctly but on top of that we do monitoring just to confirm all of that,” Washington department of health spokesman Bob James said.

"Thank God the toilets work. That's a good thing. Hopefully this thing will end soon because it's going to be different for right now. It's very different,” Mercer Island resident Joel Gamel said.

More water samples were taken Sunday and the results are due back Monday morning. Then a decision will be made whether to lift the boil water advisory and reopen schools and businesses or extend it for another day.

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