Emergency Management

Frequently Asked Questions
Posted By Sheri Badger on Apr 17th, 2007 at 8:03 AM

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Tacoma, WA – April 17, 2007 – Tacoma — Orting Public Works staff found a gate broken and evidence of tampering at their Harmon Springs facility. This provides drinking water to more than 5,000 people in Orting.

Although no evidence exists of contamination, the city and state Department of Health decided to take precautions to prevent harm from drinking or using the water. Customers are advised not to drink the water, and not to use it for cooking or bathing until it has been determined that the water was not contaminated.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management are working with Orting to notify residents. The health department is also closing food service establishments (restaurants, taverns, etc), to prevent any harm from the possibly contaminated water.

The following lists frequently asked questions and answers from the health department:

  • Question: Which water system has been affected? I live in Tacoma? Is that okay? Answer: Only Harmon Springs water system shows evidence of possible tampering or contamination. Tacoma water seems to be fine.
  • Question: I was in Orting last week. Could I get sick from something? Answer: If the water was contaminated, it happened sometime between Sunday afternoon(April 15) and Monday afternoon (April 16).
  • Question: I drank water in Orting this morning. What symptoms should I look for? Answer: We don’t know if the water was contaminated and if so, with what. If you are sick, contact your medical provider.
  • Question: Can I boil the water and then drink it? Answer: No. Since we don’t know what might have contaminated the water, we don’t know if boiling it will reduce harm or actually increase the potential for harm. Other than flushing, don’t use Orting water until we know whether anything dangerous is in it.
  • Question: When will we know it’s safe? Answer: The earliest will be Wednesday morning (April 18). We will let you know.
  • Question: I’m on dialysis and need water for treatment and care and I live in Orting. What should I do? Answer: Contact the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and let them know what you need. You can call them at (253) 798-7470.
  • Question: What about pets. Can they drink the water? Answer: At this point, the state Department of Health recommends that pets and livestock NOT be fed water from Orting. Also, vegetables should not be watered with Orting water. Once it has been determined the water is safe, you can water livestock and gardens again.
  • Question: Where can I get water to drink for me and my family right now? Answer: Bottled water is being distributed at the Safeway in Orting. The general rule is one gallon per person for 24 hours. Additional water sources are being developed and will be announced as soon as possible.
  • Question: What about schools? Can my kids go to school tomorrow? Answer: Orting School District has announced that schools will be closed tomorrow in Orting.