BURBANK -- Residents in part of town are being advised to drink bottled water as of Monday, public health officials said.
The bottled-water advisory was issued because a "significant" maintenance project will force Water District No. 4 to rely on a well with nitrate levels that exceed safe drinking water standards, said Washington state Department of Health spokesman Gordon MacCracken.
The irrigation district will supply bottled water to customers who request it.
Nitrates are found in fertilizers, manure and liquid waste from septic tanks. It can leach into soil and contaminate drinking water supplies. Elevated nitrate levels pose a health risk to infants and pregnant women, as well as people with a rare blood enzyme disorder, by reducing the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen.
While older children and adults rapidly recover, infants can be severely harmed.
Water with high nitrate levels can be used for bathing and other household uses, but susceptible people should not drink it or cook with it, officials said. Boiling does not remove nitrates from water; that action can concentrate the chemical, making the problem worse.
The water district needs to shut down one of two wells -- the one that meets drinking water standards -- for maintenance work on a water reservoir, MacCracken said in a press release. The remaining well does not meet the standard for nitrates.
Because both wells are needed to meet water demand, the district is asking customers to conserve water by refraining from watering lawns and gardens. When both wells are operating, the district mixes the water together to dilute the nitrates and provide safe drinking water.
The project is expected to last about four weeks. The advisory will remain in effect during that time. Dan Hultgrenn, secretary for the irrigation district, predicted brief disruptions in water service.
The district serves more than 200 homes and a dozen businesses on the western edge of Burbank, near the Columbia River. It covers the area east of and including Second Avenue, north of Humorist Road, west of the Columbia School District, and south of and including Poplar Street.
The district staff will test the water daily for nitrates. The state Department of Health's Office of Drinking Water will closely monitor the results. Once the maintenance work is complete and the district can resume its blending technique, the health advisory will be canceled and customers will be notified.
"We appreciate the patience of our customers as we undertake this important maintenance project," Hultgrenn said. "We're taking every precaution to make sure we're protecting their health."
For more information call 509-302-5694.