Warm Springs water woes escalate: Fire knocks out treatment plant, possibly for more than 2 months

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(Update: Added federal and state agencies responding to assist)

“It’s totally out of order”: portable toilets, showers installed; water, gift card donations sought

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Longstanding issues with an aging water system at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation worsened on Friday, when an emergency water conservation advisory was issued after that an underground fire damaged and shut down the tribes water treatment plant.

“Please limit water use to essential needs only,” the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs Facebook post said.

“Due to unforeseen damage from a small fire at the water treatment plant, all users in the Agency area, Upper Dry Creek, Sunnyside, Wolfe Point and Kah-Nee-Ta Hamlets are expected to limit the use of water for essential needs until further notice”, he mentioned.

“Repairs are expected to take at least a few months,” the brief review concludes.

Tribal Emergencies Director Dan Martinez said an underground electrical fire “caused a complete shutdown of the water plant.”

“It’s totally broken, out of order,” Martinez said Saturday, busy with other tribal officials bringing in showers and toilets, just the latest chapter in years of trouble with the city’s aging water system. reserve that led to previous outages, broken pipes and contamination that resulted in several lengthy boil water advisories in various areas.

The big federal infrastructure bill passed late last year includes significant money to fix such serious water problems on reservations across the country, but such projects can take months to plan — and years to achieve.

Waiting for…

“It drives me crazy,” Martinez said on Saturday. “It just doesn’t seem to be stopping. Just when I think I can enjoy a weekend…”

However, he added: “I was a bit more optimistic this morning. I heard from the power company that they can bypass certain areas to access one of the pumps. »

Still, “it could be a week, a month, two months,” he said, adding that they intend to stay “at least 20 to 30 days ahead,” in terms of supply. in water.

Once again, the reserve is renting out showers and toilets and looking for water donations, also accepting gift cards from places like Safeway and Fred Meyer where they can buy more water, Martinez said.

Those interested in donating to the water distribution effort were asked to call (541) 647-9001. The facility is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1116 Wasco Street in Warm Springs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is among federal and state agencies working to support the tribe in its response to the emergency, alongside the Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Health Service. India, said EPA Region 10 public affairs specialist Suzanne Skadowski.

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