Boil water update — One test down, one to go

1:30 p.m., Sept. 25: The good news for west Quincy water customers, who have been under a boil water notice since last Friday, is that the first water sample required by the state is clean and the second required test has been submitted. If, it too comes back clean, then the boil water notice will be lifted. Jim Doohan, the services district general manager, said the boil water notice could be lifted as soon as Thursday afternoon. The bad news is that the source of the contamination has not been determined. In the meantime, water customers can pick up bottled water at the district’s offices at 900 Spanish Creek Road. As of this afternoon, the district had distributed two pallets of water and was picking up a third.

Sept. 24: The boil water notice that went into effect last Friday afternoon, Sept. 20, for American Valley Community Services District water customers in west Quincy remains in effect due to the discovery of E. coli bacteria.

Services district employees, along with a state inspector and personnel from Plumas County Environmental Health, searched for the source of contamination Monday, but didn’t find it. It’s estimated that the soonest the boil notice could be lifted would be this Thursday. The district scheduled an emergency meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the issue and agreed to disburse bottled water to its customers through its office at 900 Spanish Creek Road by the airport.

Plumas County Environmental Health Director Jerry Sipe said that his office worked with local restaurants, schools and hospitals to assist them through the boil notification process.

Sipe explained that test samples will continue to be taken and must be shown to be free of E. coli twice before the boil notification can be lifted. The process takes 24 hours for each sample.

Last Friday afternoon, the services district announced that a recent sample confirmed the presence of E. coli bacteria in the water system. The State Water Resources Control Board in conjunction with the district advised boiling tap water or using bottled water for drinking and food preparation as a safety precaution.

This is the second time in a matter of months that contamination has occurred — the last time was in early June. That contamination was the first time in the 30-year history of the services district (then the Quincy Community Services District) that a positive test for E. coli had occurred.

That discovery occurred June 5 and by June 6, district employees had traced the source of the contamination. Vandals had destroyed a section of waterline in the Claremont water system. That section of piping carries water from the spring to the tank and has to be above ground to function properly, Jim Doohan, the district’s general manager explained at that time.

The situation was remedied, and after testing, the boil order was lifted June 13.

Following is the order released by the district: Do not drink water without boiling it first. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one (1) minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking and food preparation until further notice.

Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. This is the preferred method to assure that the water is safe to drink.

The district began disinfecting the water system last Friday and continued through the weekend. Water users may notice a chlorine smell from the taps as a result.

Questions and Answers

Plumas County Environmental Health Director Jerry Sipe released the following questions and answers relating to the boil water notice for west Quincy.

What exact areas of Quincy are affected?

The affected area is just downtown Quincy, from Cemetery Hill, west to beyond the hospital and south of Spanish Creek. If you are on a private well, you are not affected.

How long do we have to boil water?

First bring water to a rolling boil then boil it for 1 minute. Cool before using.

What do I do about water for my pets?

Use boiled water or bottled water for pets.

When will the water be safe to use again?  

The Community Services District is working on that. Be prepared to use boiled or bottled water for several days until notified that tap water is once again safe to drink.

What about teeth brushing?

To be safe, we recommend using boiled or bottled water for brushing teeth and all oral hygiene.

If I use the water to wash my hands could I contaminate things?  

Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and thoroughly drying your hands will prevent infection. As an added margin of safety you can use hand sanitizer after washing.

Why is only west Quincy affected?  

Quincy, East Quincy and FRC all have different water systems. Only downtown Quincy area is affected.

What do I do if I feel like I have symptoms?

Anyone experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, with or without fever should seek medical attention. These symptoms are not unique to exposure to potential contaminants in the water and the doctor’s involvement is key to identifying the cause of your illness.

Is potentially contaminated water safe for washing dishes?

It is best to use boiled or bottled water for dishwashing. As an alternative, you can use tap water to wash dishes if you soak cleaned dishes for 1 minute in a disinfectant rinse. Use 1 tablespoon of unscented bleach per gallon of water in the final rinse and allow dishes to completely air dry before use.

How should I wash fruits and vegetables and make ice?

Fruits, vegetables and any other foods that will not be cooked before eating should be washed and rinsed with boiled (then cooled) water or bottled water. Similarly, ice should be made with boiled or bottled water.

Do drip coffee makers boil the water long enough to be safe or should I use bottled water?

Use bottled water for drip coffee makers.

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