Harrisburg residents concerned over 'undrinkable' water

"Sometimes it's just murky and foggy, but other times it will be brown," Harrisburg resident Kendra Williams said. "Sometimes the toilet will be brown and no one's even used it."

Posted: Mar 18, 2021 6:36 PM

HARRISBURG, Ore -- Several Harrisburg residents have reported discolored water coming from their pipes.

"Sometimes it's just murky and foggy, but other times it will be brown," Harrisburg resident Kendra Williams said. "Sometimes the toilet will be brown and no one's even used it."

According to the city administrator Michelle Eldridge, this is caused by routine water flushing meant to clear out minerals and sediments that have built up in the city's water line. This process happens two times every year.

"If anybody is pulling water while we are doing the flushing and especially in certain areas of town, it will stir up those sediments and that will be showing up inside their water," Eldrige said.

The flushing process was scheduled to run throughout the week ending on March 19. According to Eldridge, the water should return to normal by the beginning of next week.

But Harrisburg residents tell me there have been issues with the water quality for years now.

"It's the worst I've ever seen it in the six years I've lived in Harrisburg," Harrisburg resident Shannon Boehm said. "I was drawing a bath for my son and I was like, there's no way I can put my kid in this. I can't see the bottom of the bathtub."

The city is currently working to improve it's water system. In 2017, a $7.5 million bond was passed to start projects that would improve the Harrisburg's water quality.

Crews are working to improve the city's filtration system and replace three-and-a-half miles of water lines, according to Eldridge. 

"We're hoping that once we get the new well online, we'll be able to shut that one down completely and the water quality will start getting better for our patrons."

According to Eldridge, the water is safe to drink, even though it is not aesthetically pleasing. But some residents are not taking any chances.

"I've tasted it before," Harrisburg resident Gloria Orta-Friend said. "It tastes horrible like, irony and dirty, like, if you were to just fill a cup up from the river and take a drink."

"We reached out and we were told that it's just minerals and that it's perfectly safe to drink," Boehm said. "I was like, I don't know if I believe that."

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