After more tests, Salem's 'don't drink' advisory remains in effect for vulnerable groups

(File Photo)

SALEM, Ore. –A “don’t drink” advisory for vulnerable populations is still in effect Thursday after another round of testing from the Detroit Reservoir water supply, the City of Salem confirmed.

The city first issued the advisory Tuesday after water samples taken on May 23 found low levels of cyanotoxins in the tap water that exceeded the EPA's 10-day exposure duration for “vulnerable populations,” like children under 6 years old.

The “don’t drink” advisory is for the following groups:

  • Those under the age of six
  • People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing liver conditions
  • People receiving dialysis treatment, or other sensitive populations
  • Pregnant women or nursing mothers
  • Elderly
  • Pets

The cyanotoxins are coming from a blue-green algae bloom in the Dexter Reservoir, which serves as the water source for the impacted areas - the City of Salem, City of Turner, Suburban East Salem Water District, and Orchard Heights Water Association.

The advisory has been lifted for the Stayton area, authorities said Thursday.

Healthy adults are fine to drink the water and should not see any health problems, city officials said.

The city received the results of the test Saturday, but officials said they wanted to be sure before issuing the advisory Tuesday. They said they rushed further rounds of testing from their contracted out-of-state labs, and received the results on Thursday.

RELATED | Salem gets test results days before issuing 'do not drink' water advisory for young kids

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday issued a "state of emergency" to activate state resources in helping bring clean water to the area. The Oregon Military Department will set up the free, clean water stations throughout Salem and Turner.

These sites will open by 7 p.m. Thursday:

  • Wallace Marine Park, 200 Glen Creek Rd. NW, Salem
  • Oregon State Fairgrounds, 2330 17th St. NE, Salem
  • Bush’s Pasture Park, Mission St. entrance, 600 Mission St. SE, Salem
  • Woodmansee Park, 4629 Sunnyside Rd. SE, Salem

These sites will open by midnight:

  • Chemeketa Community College, Brown Parking Lot, 4000 Lancaster Drive NE, Salem
  • AMF Firebird Lanes, 4303 Center Street NE, Salem
  • Former Chevrolet Dealership, 5325 Denver Street, Turner

People have to bring their own containers, and there is a five gallon limit for each vehicle.


The State Attorney General is reminding people of Oregon’s price gouging law as they purchase water, and asks that they report any instances of gouging to the AG's office.

Salem's City Council will a special meeting Friday at noon specifically to address the water advisory and take public comment.

Authorities say that boiling the water doesn’t remove the toxins and can actually increase the toxin levels. Most filters do not remove the toxins either.

People should give their children bottled water for drinking, making infant formula, ice or food preparation until the advisory is lifted.

Drinking water with cyanotoxins can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and possible liver and kidney damage.

Animals can also be affected, so consider giving your pets a different source of water and call your vet if they show signs of illness.

READ MORE | Health officials on Salem 'don't drink' advisory: 'Pets have the highest risk of exposure'

You can still shower and wash your hands, clothes and dishes with the tap water, however, kids and small children should be supervised during bath time to make sure they don’t accidentally ingest any of the water.

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