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The original item was published from 9/11/2014 11:35:31 AM to 9/20/2014 12:05:02 AM.

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Posted on: September 11, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Brookings Acts on Salt Water Concerns

“We don’t have a water quality problem now and we don’t intend to have a problem. That’s why we are taking these actions now,” Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman said today after reviewing water testing results from the City’s Chetco River intake that could be an early indicator of possible salt water intrusion in the City’s drinking water source of supply.

“Brookings water is safe to drink and we are taking action to keep it that way. There is no immediate water quality problem,” Milliman said. “However, given the slight changes in the intake water's characteristics, and the problems encountered with salt water intrusion at the Harbor Water District intake, we are taking action out of an abundance of caution.”

"As precautionary measures, we have turned off the 1,200 gallon-per minute intake pumps during high tide periods and we are asking residents to reduce water consumption,” Milliman said. “We will also continue to perform testing and monitor the situation closely.”

Typical water conservation measures that will produce immediate results include reduced landscape watering, not washing down hard surfaces and only running appliances such as washers and dishwashers with a full load.

There are several periods of higher than normal tides scheduled to occur over the next few days.

Milliman said “conductivity” water readings at the City's intake station showed a rise from 0.04 ms/cm (microsiemens per centimeter) on Tuesday to 0.09 ms/cm on Wednesday. A test taken this (Thursday) morning showed a reading of 0.084. By comparison, the Harbor Water District had readings as high as 1.60 ms/cm on Tuesday which resulted in noticeably degraded water quality.

Conductivity readings show the concentration of ions in the water, and while these tests are not “proof” of higher sodium levels in the water, the City has decided to investigate further.
"Brookings water customers should not experience any noticeable change in water taste or odor at a conductivity level below 0.9 ms/cm. We're a long way from reaching this threshold," said Milliman.

During low flow periods in 2012 and 2013, conductivity readings were in the 0.034 - 0.04 ms/cm range. The range considered normal for the Brookings water system is 0.04 ms/cm.

"Wednesday’s and Thursday's conductivity readings at the Brookings intake tells us that some salt water may be breaking through the freshwater flow beneath the river and City water samples have been sent to a certified laboratory to determine sodium levels. We expect to have the results of those tests today or tomorrow,” Milliman said.

The Oregon Department of Health Services recommends that people who are on sodium restricted diets not consume water that contains 20 ppm (parts per million) or more of sodium.
"We don’t know how close we are to this level," Milliman said, "but we will know soon and will inform the public accordingly. We will also continue testing."

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