Warm Springs water crisis continues
WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (AP) — Schools, businesses and homeowners in Warm Springs, Oregon, are into their second week of a water crisis that is forcing residents to boil water before consumption, the most recent in a string of water problems plaguing the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
The Bulletin reports a boil water notice initiated on May 30 remains in effect until further notice, due to loss of pressure in the distribution system.
The tribal council was expected to address the issue in meetings earlier this week, but results have not been announced.
Warm Springs — one of Oregon’s poorest communities with poverty rates double the state average — has struggled to maintain its infrastructure, create jobs and provide affordable housing. Access to clean and safe drinking water also compounds a health crisis in an area suffering from soaring rates of diabetes and cancer.
Warm Springs has endured four similar boil water notices in the past six months. Aging infrastructure and the challenging fiscal environment have prevented completing repairs to the water distribution network.
The current problem is the result of a main line break that occurred at a section of pipe where it crosses Shitike Creek. The cost of the repair is not yet known, according to Alyssa Macy, chief operations officer for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
About 1,200 water services connections have been affected in the community of 3,800 people, she added.
“This is like a game of chess; we are moving pieces around; it could get worse,” Macy said.
The main line break forced the closure of Warm Springs K-8 Academy for two days last week. Food is being prepared at school kitchens in Madras, and water tanks have been hooked up to toilets to keep them flushing, according to Ken Parshall, Jefferson County School District superintendent.
At the nearby Indian Head Casino, the Cottonwood restaurant will remain closed until the problem has been mitigated, said Belinda Chavez, director of marketing for the casino. The Tule Grill, another eatery at the casino, will stay open and has extended its operating hours to accommodate customers for breakfast.