Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Terri Harber


Baker County continues to search for ways to recoup some of the money spent by businesses and local government in response to the parasite cryptosporidium reaching the city's municipal water supply.

Costs for labor, supplies and other related needs continue to exceed the norm, County Commissioner Mark Bennett said today.

Local officials have declared the situation an emergency but the state hasn't yet taken the same action, he said.

Officials estimate at least 300 to 400 people have been infected with crypto over the past month or so.

The city continues to recommend residents boil water before drinking it or using it to brush their teeth, wash dishes or for cooking.

It depends on what's available," Bennett said about possible compensation. "This is totally new territory, not like a fire or flood. We're just exploring opportunities and trying to make sure we don't miss anything."

Jason Yencopal is the county employee working with businesses that have experienced financial loss that could be directly attributed to the cryptosporidum crisis. His number is 541-523-9669.

The water boiling order has been in effect since July 31. Both city and county officials have expressed concerned about the impact on business and tourism.

City workers took water samples during the weekend, but no further test results have come in, City Manager Mike Kee said this morning.

The city council held a town hall meeting Thursday night. It was announced during the meeting that most actions taken would be dictated by state and federal officials.

There has been speculation on what could happen.

For example, another well could be dug - though one more well alone wouldn't provide enough of a water source to serve the entire community. Well water is much less likely to be infected with waterborne parasites.

City officials also intend to consider renting an ultraviolet light treatment system to render harmless the crypto and other waterborne parasites.

Cost hasn't been determined for either project.

UV is currently being planned as a long-term treatment. The city's deadline to install a system is October 2016, but the city could do so sooner.