Locals worried Roberts boil order came too late - East Idaho News

Locals worried Roberts boil order came too late

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ROBERTS – After miscommunication from city officials regarding water quality, people in Roberts aren’t sure if the water is safe to drink.

After a series of back-and-forth posts on the city of Roberts Facebook page last week about brown water coming from people’s faucets, the city posted a release saying it had received multiple violations from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and were working to fix them.

RELATED | Residents are concerned and the DEQ is involved after water in Roberts comes out brown

After telling residents the water was safe to drink a few days later, city officials then said DEQ had placed Roberts under a boil order. The city released a statement a short time later that the water tested positive for E. Coli.

Later, Roberts Mayor BJ Berlin declared a state of emergency, saying “there is an immediate threat to the public health and safety of residents.”

Some locals are experiencing symptoms or have already gotten sick and are worried the statements came too late.

Ethan Murdock, a member of the community, says he and his pregnant wife, along with their 2 -year-old son started experiencing symptoms days before the boil order was put into place when the water was deemed safe to drink.

“A few weeks ago, we noticed the water was brown, so we went on the (city of Roberts) Facebook page. Some other people had been asking about it, so we said, “Okay, it’s not just our house,” says Murdock. “People were asking about the water quality, and the city said it was still okay to drink (the water) and go back to normal. They said they had just switched the wells, so that’s why it was discolored. After that, I drank the water because they said it was okay.”

After his family had already resumed drinking the water, Murdock says the city changed its statement.

“They said, ‘the chlorine is too high, and we’re having people come to look at it, so don’t drink the water,'” says Murdock. “And then they said, ‘okay, it’s fixed!’ So we were drinking it, and that’s when my family got sick.”

As soon as they heard there was a boil order, the Murdocks stopped drinking the water entirely.

On Monday, the city posted that a “certified operator has added additional chlorine to the water system” and that residents “may smell chlorine. The amount added is within normal limits,” even though the boil order was still in effect.

“(A) Roberts licensed operator, in communication with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is installing a new chlorinating pump. Multiple water tests are being conducted. We will continue to keep you posted regarding progress,” the city’s latest update on Facebook says.

On Sunday from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., the city said bottled water would be available at City Hall, but only one case of water per household. As of Tuesday, this service is still available.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sending a shipment of packaged water to the city in response to the boil order. Brett Crandall, a regional spokesman for the church, tells EastIdahoNews.com Mayor Berlin requested five cases of water for about 300 households in city limits. Eighteen pallets of water will be delivered from the Bishop’s storehouse in Salt Lake City to Roberts between 1 and 2 p.m. Wednesday.

It will be delivered to City Hall at 653 North 2858 East.