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Phoenix, Talent residents should boil drinking water

Residents who still have homes in Talent and Phoenix should boil their water before drinking it because of the potential for harmful bacteria in the water supply.

If not killed, the bacteria could make people sick and is especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.

A portion of the water system lost power and pressure earlier this week due to the Almeda fire that started Tuesday in north Ashland and burned through Talent and Phoenix, water managers said.

Water customers should bring water to a rolling boil for a full minute, allow the water to cool before using it and store the cooled water in a clean container with a cover, the city of Talent advised starting Thursday.

People should use boiled and cooled water or bottled water for drinking, brushing their teeth, washing fruits and vegetables, preparing food and baby formula, making ice and cleaning surfaces that come into contact with food, city of Talent officials said.

Talent officials said they would inform the public when the water system is pressurized, tests show no bacteria and people no longer need to boil water. Employees are working as quickly and possible, but getting the system pressurized and getting test results could take 24-72 hours, Talent officials said Thursday.

Phoenix officials issued similar warnings about the possibility of bacteria in the Phoenix water system. They estimated Thursday it could take three to seven days to get test results.

The Medford Water Commission, which supplies water to water supply systems in cities that include Phoenix and Talent, said its customers in all cities may notice cloudy water. However, the water is safe to drink in other cities. Extra air bubbles may be in Medford Water Commission-supplied water because the commission ramped up water flows, the commission said Friday.

On Tuesday, the Medford Water Commission instituted mandatory water use restrictions for nonessential water use, such as watering lawns, in order to preserve water for Almeda firefighting operations and essential needs like drinking water.

Reservoir levels and flow from the Big Butte Springs source have since been increased.

On Thursday, the Medford Water Commission lifted the mandatory water restrictions.

The commission is still asking the public to voluntarily conserve water.

For automatic water sprinklers, water lawns and landscaping between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

For manual watering, water between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m.

Make sure sprinklers and irrigation components are in good repair and are adjusted and operated to eliminate waste.

When using a hose, equip it with a nozzle that can direct the water and shut off the flow when not needed.

All known customer leaks in homes and businesses should be repaired.

Reduce nonessential water use, including for ornamental fountains, filling ponds and pools, washing vehicles except at facilities that recycle, dust control except at construction sites and washing of buildings, streets, decks, driveways and sidewalks except as necessary for public health and safety.

For updates, see medfordwater.org or contact the customer service department at 541-774-2430 during business hours. For after-hours emergencies, call 541-779-7611.

Some Phoenix and Talent evacuees were allowed to return to their homes Friday after part of a Level 3 "Go" evacuation alert was lifted. To view a current map of Jackson County evacuation zones, visit jacksoncounty.org/evacuation.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Talent and Phoenix residents should boil drinking water before use. File photo