Water supply is OK

Luckiamute tanks checked out after security warnings, strange footprints

POLK COUNTY -- The water supply for the Luckiamute Domestic Water Cooperative was not contaminated.

However, when inspectors found footprints leading up to four of of the co-op's 14 tanks Nov. 3, they didn't take any chances.

They shut down the system -- leaving some 2,000 rural residents without water for the weekend.

Scott Barry, manager of the co-op, said the it was a case of better safe than sorry.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft put the nation on high alert last week, warning of possible terrorist attacks.

Ashcroft said transportation systems, bridges and water supplies were among the likely targets.

In response to the attorney general's warning, inspectors check out the tanks. They found the footprints but no evidence of tampering.

All the same, they called the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Deputies agreed that someone had been trespassing at the tanks.

Barry ordered that the entire system be drained with the exception of Falls City. In all, 600 connections were put out of service, leaving 2,000 people without water.

At least three water samples were taken from each of the tanks and taken to a lab in Salem. There was no trace of contaminates or sabotage.

Around 9 a.m. Nov. 4, valves were turned off. Water service didn't resume for many customers until a day or two. Even then, water users were still urged to boil their water for 24 hours -- more because the system had drained than any terrorist threat.

The trespassing is still under investigation.

Barry said there is increased security at the tanks. They have all been fenced up and locked down.


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