Microbiologist on Portland’s water: Don’t worry

People drinking from the Benson Bubblers in Portland (KOIN 6 News, file)
People drinking from the Benson Bubblers in Portland (KOIN 6 News, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — When asked if he’s boiling his water in the wake of Portland’s boil water order Friday, microbiologist Scott Fernandez was succinct.

Microbiologist Scott Fernandez, May 23, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Microbiologist Scott Fernandez, May 23, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“Absolutely not.”

Fernandez, who is also a former Portland Utility Review board member, said people shouldn’t worry.

“It’s up to them” if people want to boil their water, he said. “The EPA realizes it’s serious because people could suffer burns and burned units.”

The city’s recommendation to boil water is a very cautious approach. Officials said they believe the “risk to the public is very low.”

They also said they “checked microbiology of water and also chlorine levels, and it’s very adequate, should make the water safe.”

Fernandez said there is a reason to issue the boil water advisory, though.

“The reality is this is a heavily regulated area of our water quality and we have specific guidelines we follow.”

Dr. John Heiser of Providence St. Vincent's, May 23, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Dr. John Heiser of Providence St. Vincent’s, May 23, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Emergency room doctors agree with the low threat risk of Portland’s E. coli scare.

“The chance of getting sick is low,” said Dr. John Heiser of Providence St. Vincent’s . “But you should know the symptoms.”

Those symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal cramps.

The next set of test results on the water are expected sometime Saturday.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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