Boil-water advisory lifted for Mercer Island; officials encourage residents to flush pipes

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A water fountain at Mercer Island High School

MERCER ISLAND — Officials lifted a boil-water advisory on Mercer Island Wednesday afternoon, marking at least a temporary end to a saga that has plagued residents and restaurants on the small island community.

City and utility officials lifted the boil-water advisory at noon Wednesday, saying the water was safe to drink. The city’s 64 restaurants — which had been at least partially closed since the advisory was put in place last week — were slated to reopen after individually speaking with the department of public health.

Officials decided to lift the ban after water samples tested negative for E. Coli or Total Coliform for the sixth day in a row. The city issued these instructions for residents to ensure their water is safe to drink following the lifting of the ban:

  • Flush pipes at home for 5 minutes by running the cold water tap at all faucets until it feels a lot colder; for a residence with multiple levels, start at the top of the house.
  • If discolored, run water until it is clear; drink water from the cold faucet.
  • Some residents may notice a chlorine smell – this is not harmful and indicates disinfected water has indeed reached the house. If left to stand in a pitcher, water will lose the smell. Chlorine levels are comparable to many other municipal systems.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for appliances such as water filters and water softeners.
  • Dispose of ice from automatic icemakers, make and discard 3 batches, then wash and sanitize trays.
  • Run enough hot water to completely empty the water heater tank; water will feel cool.

Mercer Island schools will continue special water and food preparation procedures until officials can specifically sanitize its water-related systems tonight.

In an effort to route out the cause of contamination, Seattle Public Utility workers have flushed all priority areas, boosted chlorine injections into the city, inspected more than 150 underground pipes and back-flowed 25 devices identified as high-risk. Officials are now confident the systems have been properly flushed and possible contamination factors eliminated.

Mercer Island’s Mayor Bruce Basset said he, and the community, are relieved the ban has been lifted and remain confident that further tests of the water will result negative for presence of bacteria.

“I know I can speak for the whole community when I say that this day has been a long time coming,” he said. “We all look forward to life returing back to normal.”





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