In coordination with the WA State Department of Health (DOH) and in response to the recent order by the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) to close portions of the Columbia River shoreline due to toxic levels of Cyanobacteria, the Cities of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland join together to report on the safety of the drinking water in the Tri-Cities.
Drinking water regulations have a federal basis, with state implementation through the DOH. DOH and the Cities’ water department personnel work together to ensure the safety of the public drinking water supplies.
The water treatment processes are monitored continuously with discrete sampling done every day for basic bacteriological health and safety.
Because the river is a source for our drinking water supply in the Tri-Cities, upon reports from the BFHD of the presence of toxic algae detected along the shorelines of the Columbia River, each City with treatment plants utilizing the Columbia River as a source (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland) immediately took measures to perform further testing of the water arriving at the treatment plant as well as the finished water after treatment. Since the City of West Richland obtains approximately 40% of its drinking water from Richland, the City of West Richland has been monitoring these developments closely.
Each City collected two sets of samples that were tested by the King County Environmental Lab. Sample results show that if the toxin is present when it arrives at the treatment plant, the Cities’ water treatment systems are effective in reducing or removing the toxin, and the finished water is safe to drink. The Cities are working closely with DOH to continuously analyze and optimize their treatment process for maximum removal of any toxin that may be present when it arrives at the treatment plant. Out of an abundance of caution, each City will continue to monitor the drinking water twice a week for these toxins as long as there are postings and advisories at the affected shoreline areas (potentially 4-8 weeks).
Each City is diligent about following all State and Federal requirements for drinking water testing. The Cities have also invested millions of dollars in water treatment plants that use a variety of processes, including filtration and chemical processes, to produce safe and reliable drinking water for the communities in the Tri-Cities. More information regarding cyanobacteria can be found at https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Contaminants/BlueGreenAlgae