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Boil water advisory ends in Burney, CA after nearly two weeks

Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Escherichia coli bacteria (green) taken from the small intestine of a child. E. coli are rod-shaped bacteria that are part of the normal flora of the human gut.
Stephanie Schuller
Science Source
Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Escherichia coli bacteria (green). E. coli was found in Burney's water system on July 12.

A town in eastern Shasta County had to boil its drinking water for almost two weeks under an advisory that ended Tuesday afternoon. E. coli bacteria had been detected in the water.

The problem was originally anticipated to last seven days. But the boil water advisory remained in effect for residents of Burney, a small, unincorporated town near Redding, from July 12 to July 25.

The presence of E. coli on July 12 indicated the water might be contaminated by human or animal waste, according to the water advisory. Pathogens in these wastes can cause short-term illness, and may pose a greater health risk for more sensitive groups like infants, children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

Officials with the Burney Water District could not be reached for comment.

On July 14, the Burney Water District added sodium hypochlorite, which is the active ingredient in chlorine bleach, to the water system in order to disinfect it. Three days later they began flushing out the chlorinated water. On July 21, the district said chlorine was still present in the system, even with all of the flushing completed. They changed valves on the distribution system in order to make the process move faster, according to the district.

On Tuesday, after water samples were tested, the Burney Water District canceled the boil water advisory and deemed it once again safe to drink.

Ella Hutcherson is a recent University of Oregon graduate from Coos Bay, Oregon. She came to Jefferson Public Radio through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. Previously, Ella worked as education reporter for the Eugene Weekly and she was the managing editor of the UO student-run Ethos Magazine.