Coliform bacteria found in Downey water

DOWNEY, Calif. Do not drink the tap water in Downey unless you boil it first. That is the word from the L.A. County Health Department after routine testing found coliform bacteria in the water distribution system.

"Well that is scary because we drink the water. You never know, we might drink the water some where else, and me being pregnant seems like a big issue to me," said Michelle Cortez.

Downey restaurants are now shutdown. Owners say the timing is horrible and they question whether the city took action fast enough.

"I am sure nobody is sitting on their hands. But there are a lot of businesses that are owned by families, like myself, that are going to suffer really bad because of this," said restaurant owner, Sidel Palomo.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, city and county leaders said that they are testing the water daily. They are trying to determine how the bacteria got into the city's water supply.

Meantime they are urging residents and restaurant owners to be patient, and more importantly not to panic.

"Again, I want to caution everyone not to overreact. This is in fact bacteria, but not harmful bacteria that had been indicated. They might suggest other harmful bacteria, we just haven't seen any of them yet," said Angelo Bellomo, L.A. County Public Health Department.

Failure to follow this advisory could result in stomach or intestinal illness.

As part of the City's weekly water quality testing program, the City has found total coliform bacteria in the distribution system. As a precautionary measure the California Department of Public Health in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Health Department, and City of Downey Utilities Division Water System are advising residents of Downey, California to use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes as a safety precaution.

Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one (1) minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water and is the preferred method to ensure that the water is safe to drink.

  • An alternative method of purification for residents that do not have gas or electricity available is to use fresh liquid household bleach (Clorox(R), Purex(R), etc.). To do so, add 8 drops (or 1/4 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of clear water or 16 drops (or 1/2 teaspoon) per gallon of cloudy water, mix thoroughly, and allow to stand for 30 minutes before using. A chlorine-like taste and odor will result from this purification procedure and is an indication that adequate disinfection has taken place.
  • Water purification tablets may also be used by following the manufacturer's instructions.
We will inform you when tests show no bacteria and you no longer need to boil your water. We anticipate resolving the problem within three (3) calendar days.

For more information call:
Water Utility contact: Louis A. Atwell, Deputy Director of Public Works, (562) 448-8936, 11111 Brookshire Avenue, Downey, CA 90241-7016.
California Department of Public Health -- Drinking Water Field Operations Branch- District Office at (213) 580-5723.
Local Environmental Health Jurisdiction: Los Angeles County at (626) 430-5420.
Additional information may be found at the City's Web site

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.


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