Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Terri Harber


Baker City Councilors have spent years discussing how to upgrade treatment of its municipal drinking water.

Now, with many residents diagnosed with cryptosporidium and the parasite confirmed in the city's water, some councilors are hoping the city's water-treatment project can be fast-tracked.

Another thought is that spending more money for a filtration plant instead of the less costly UV treatment would be best.

Councilor Clair Button said councilors likely will determine whether an ultraviolet light plant, which would deal with crypto, can be accelerated. The city's deadline to install equipment that protects the water against crypto is Oct. 1, 2016.

Button pointed out that it's not as if city staff could go to "the hardware store and pick up what we'd need to install it."

What should be discussed now are options to speed up its financing and implementation, Button said.

Cost of the UV system would be about $2.5 million and a filtration plant would require about $15 million.

Button said he and his wife, Kata Bulinski, normally drink quite a lot of tap water. After a recent meal that caused them both some gas they were concerned it was the start of crypto. They felt better within about 24 hours, however, he said.

Crypto can have a variety of effects on people who are infected, some of whom have no symptoms.

Typically, symptoms last about a week.

Councilor Roger Coles would prefer the city spend the extra money for a filtration plant.

"Dump this UV thing and move on," he said this morning "get a (tax levy) bond and get it done."

Coles said residents have asked him why the city stopped testing for crypto after three of 24 water samples showed small amounts of the parasite in 2010 and 2011.

Although the city wasn't legally required to continue testing, Coles contends testing should have continued.

Councilor Dennis Dorrah had just returned from out of town when crypto was confirmed.

"Once we figure that out, then we can move on from there," Dorrah said. "I don't think panic is called for in this situation."

He pointed out that the city has provided its residents with unfiltered water for more than 100 years.

Dorrah visited a UV plant in Canby months ago and observed that it was a "real nice, clean system," he said.