Part of Escondido under boil water notice: Order includes Palomar Medical Center

Water test indicated presence of a bacteria

ESCONDIDO - People in part of Escondido have been ordered to boil water Saturday, because a routine water test indicated the presence of a bacteria in drinking water in the Rincon del Diablo Water District.

The district issued the advisory late Friday, and said the coliform bacteria that was found in the drinking water is a naturally occurring bacteria, but could be an indicator that other, potentially harmful, bacteria could be present.

Authorities from the district said the boil water notice was for customers with account numbers starting with 01 to 48, as well as 94, 96 and 97. Click here to see a map of the affected area.

"Shock, especially since I had just been drinking a lot of it. I was worried and I just been down to the market and the shelves were empty," said Escondido resident Melinda Santa Cruz.

Her kitchen counters are piled high with jugs of water – an inconvenience and added cost.

"I'm disabled, my husband is on Social Security, so it matters to us," she said.

Palomar Medical Center is also under the boil water notice. A sign at the entrance to the hospital let visitors know about the issue.

Chief medical quality officer Dr. Jerry Kolins showed 10News a storage room packed with pallets of canned and bottled water. He says they have replaced the existing water with bottled water, turned off the water fountains and locked up the ice machines.

"Meanwhile, we have no knowledge that there's any coliform here at all," he said. "We are just making sure that everything we do is safe for the patients."

A district spokeswoman said the general area affected is along Interstate 15 from about Via Rancho Parkway to State Route 78 in the northern part of the city.

Water district crews spent Saturday morning taking water samples. The coliform was detected at an intersection during routine testing on Tuesday. A series of tests are then taken before a boil water alert is issued.

"Normal protocol is to retest, flush, flush and clean and around the system and retest," said Greg Thomas, general manager of the Rincon del Diablo Water District.

There is a good chance the water is fine.

"99 percent of time it's a sampling error, somebody stuck their thumb in the water, didn't clean the sampling bottle properly or whatever," said Thomas.

District authorities said in a statement that residents should use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking. Tap water should be brought to a boil, then allowed to boil for at least five minutes and cooled before using it.

The boil water order was expected to last at least 48 hours, and a failure to boil tap water could result in stomach or intestinal illness, district spokesperson Julia Escamilla said.

Alternative methods of disinfecting tap water include adding eight drops -- an eighth teaspoon -- of household bleach per gallon of clear water, or 16 drops -- a quarter teaspoon -- to a gallon of cloudy water, then mixing it thoroughly and letting it stand for 30 minutes.

Disinfection tablets can also be used if the manufacturer's instructions are followed, Escamilla said.

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