UPDATE: Trentwood Irrigation District is happy to report that samples taken yesterday showed no bacteria or harmful substances.
The water is safe to drink. District crews determined that the cause of the problem was a well that cavitated which caused dirt and air to enter the water system. This dirt, while not pleasant, is not in itself harmful to drink.
As a precaution the district issued a boil advisory and notified schools until verification that the water was indeed safe to drink by sampling. The District worked with the Washington Dept of Health through out the day to insure public health concerns were addressed.
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash – Contaminated water within the Trentwood Irrigation District prompted the closure of three Spokane Valley Schools Tuesday, and affected 1,600 homes nearby.
East Valley High School, East Valley Middle School and Trentwood Elementary were all closed Tuesday morning, after Trentwood Irrigation notified the school district that a well pump malfunctioned, churning dirt into the water.
While dirt was the only contaminant believed to be involved, Trentwood Irrigation recommended residents to boil their drinking water as a precaution, while water samples were tested.
"I am worried because I did drink the water this morning," said Casey Whallon, whose son was sent home from school. "Not knowing if any bacteria got into the water, that was my concern - are we going to get sick?"
Whallon also works at a nearby school, and while it was not shut down, Whallon said she saw evidence it's students were affected. One boy brought in a water bottle from home that was brown.
"It was definitely contaminated, it had silt in it and was a brownish color," Whallon added. "His water bottle was kind of an off-color anyway, so [his mother] didn't see it when she filled it up, but she called the school later and said, ‘Don't let him drink it!"
Residents living in the affected area told KHQ many of them weren't notified of the contamination by the Trentwood Irrigation District, and felt they should have been.
"I'm a little annoyed, said Derek Tate. "We should know, a phone call, notices, people going door to door, something."
Trentwood Irrigation told KHQ it does not have a mass-alert system, and relied on the school district and news reports to spread the word.
They say there's no reason to believe any bacteria – or other harmful agents – are in the water. Samples are being tested, and the results should be back by 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Regardless of the results, school is back is session across the East Valley district. They'll have water bottles on hand, just in case those test samples show there's any cause for concern.