Several Shady Cove homes urged to boil water before use

SHADY COVE — Four-dozen households have been advised to boil their water for drinking and cooking until further notice because of low water pressure in wells.

The residents live along Erickson Avenue and are served by the Northridge Water Co., one of several small water companies in the area.

Health officials said water tests have shown no contaminants, but decreased water pressure can allow for backflow into the system.

"Anytime you have a loss of pressure, you have the potential for contaminants possibly getting in there," said Jackson Bowers, Jackson County Environmental Health Division manager.

"It's not saying it will happen or even that it has, but it does happen. The boil water notice is more a prevention mechanism."

The notice is a precaution required by the state Drinking Water Program, Bowers said.

The residents served by Northridge include tenants of Jackson County Housing Authority, which is delivering water at the county's expense.

"We're delivering drinking water as a courtesy because we have a lot of elderly disabled tenants and we don't want them to be without," said Cara Carter, director of Tenant Services.

Notices were sent Sept. 11 and remain in effect. Notices also had been sent Aug. 17 and lifted a week later.

Northridge water system operator Norm Shaw said the system is tested for contaminants every 30 days.

"I did samples Sept. 2 and it's all clean. There's no E. coli, no bacteria. ... It's just that, if your pressure is real low, they want you to have folks boil the water as a precaution and get a sampling," Shaw said.

Carter said the housing authority is considering alternatives for providing water if water supplies do not become more reliable.

"It's been an ongoing problem in the city of Shady Cove. We're looking at possibly digging our own well but we prefer not to do that," Carter said.

Shaw said Northridge, which is largely dependent upon wells, has struggled in recent years with inadequate supply because of increased demand on groundwater.

Shaw said a second company for which he conducts testing utilizes a large holding tank to ensure adequate pressure.

"I've been doing this for seven years and this whole area is just really strapped for water," Shaw said.

"There is virtually nothing here. We just lowered the well pumps we do have further into the ground, then the county issued four new well permits for homes in the same neighborhood and the pressure was back down. There's just not enough to go around."

He added, "People see that boil water notice and immediately fly off the handle, but it's just a matter of waiting for the pressure to come back up."

On Wednesday, Shaw reported a half-dozen households still struggling with low water pressure. When pressure resumes, testing by an independent laboratory must be conducted and county officials notified of results.

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