Baker City won’t have to immediately start testing its drinking water for cyanotoxins, the algae-caused contaminants that forced Salem to issue a health advisory to its residents in late May and again in June.
The Oregon Health Authority issued temporary rules last week that require about 100 cities and water suppliers to start periodic sampling of their water July 15.
Baker City is not on that list, nor are any other public water systems in Baker County.
“It’s not an issue for us at this point,” said Michelle Owen, the city’s public works director.
The temporary rule applies to water sources that the state agency believes are susceptible to blooms of blue-green algae, which can produce two types of cyanotoxins.
Those sources, according to the Health Authority, have had previous reports of blue-green algae blooms or have characteristics “including, but not limited to, slow moving or stagnant water.”
Of the water sources listed as susceptible in a June 28 document from the Health Authority, just two are in Eastern Oregon — Ontario and Pendleton.
Water systems included on the Health Authority list will be required to collect raw water samples every two weeks — beginning July 15 under the temporary rules — each year between May 1 and Oct. 31, when cyanobacteria are most common in surface water sources, according to the agency.
See more in the July 4, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.