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Health Department Finds E. coli Bacteria at Spring Near Ohop Lake

January 9, 2015

Water not fit for use; Pierce County will remove cistern at spring by the end of January

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department staff have found traces of E. coli bacteria in water running from a cistern fed by a spring near Ohop Lake. The Health Department cautions people not to use water from the spring or cistern, which is located about a mile north of the boat launch on Orville Road.

The cistern sits within Pierce County’s right of way, and Pierce County Road Maintenance crews are scheduled to remove the cistern by the end of January.

“Because the Health Department has found E. coli at the location, the water does not meet safe drinking water standards, and people should not use it for drinking or other household purposes,” said Brad Harp, program manager in Water Resources and Hazardous Waste. The Health Department plans to send letters to area residents, explaining the situation.

Many strains of the bacteria Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are harmless, but some produce a toxin that can cause infections. These infections can lead to severe diarrhea, stomach cramps and bloody stool. Symptoms can take up to nine days to appear, but they typically begin within three or four days. People with symptoms should get medical care. People most at risk are infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

  • If you think you or your family members are sick from E. coli infection, see your medical provider.
  • If you have questions about drinking water quality in Pierce County, contact the Health Department at 253-798-6470, select option 2 and leave a message (checked twice daily, Monday through Friday); or email questions to
  • If you have questions about removal of the cistern, contact Jeff Rudolph, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, at 253-798-7693.
  • For information about E. coli, check the Centers for Disease Control site at

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager
(253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text),
Brad Harp, Program Manager – Water Resources and Hazardous Waste
(253) 798-2851,

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