The National Guard will hand out free water to residents who can’t drink tap water contaminated by an algae bloom in the Salem, Oregon, area, and state law enforcement authorities are looking into claims of price gouging after officials extended an emergency drinking water advisory. Gov. Kate Brown’s office said Thursday the water will be distributed to people at 10 locations in the state’s capital and Stayton because of toxins created by a bloom at Detroit Lake, a municipal reservoir. Officials had earlier warned young children and people with compromised immune systems against drinking tap water in the area. At a press conference Thursday, Salem water quality supervisor Lacey Goeres-Priest said a best-case scenario would see the advisory lifted no earlier than after collecting safe water samples both Friday and Saturday. This is a living thing,” Powers said, referring to the algae that create the toxins. “We’re not going to speculate as to whether it’s going to get better or get worse.” State law enforcement authorities are also looking into claims of price gouging on bottled water in the area, said Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Justice. Officials have received more than a dozen complaints so far and expect more as consumers become aware they can report the incidents. Alan Torga, of Salem, was one person who complained after he said employees at a supermarket asked his mother for $25 for a case of 36 bottles of water. “She picked up on it and called me,” Torga said, adding that he told his mother not to pay the price. Later, at another supermarket, she saw employees selling gallons of water for about $13, he added. “It’s really unfortunate that people are getting gouged like this.” Brown declared a localized state of emergency in part to empower the attorney general to look into the complaints, said Bryan Hockaday, a spokesman for the governor. The developments follow earlier confusion generated when officials used a wireless alert system to blast a cryptic warning Tuesday to “Prepare for Action” onto cellphones around the city, referring only to a “Civil Emergency.” Officials blamed the truncated message on a computer glitch that cut off crucial information: The alert was only for a limited water advisory.

No Comments

Leave a Comment