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Salem Extends Water Advisory, Despite Clean Tests

Sheila Sund
File photo. An algae bloom in Detroit Lake has led to low levels of cyanotoxins being found in the Salem's water supply.

A drinking water advisory in Salem has been extended for another two weeks.

City officials announced that the most recent testing indicates they can lift an advisory for young children and other sensitive populations. But they’re not doing that because toxins from an algae bloom have popped up again and again in the city’s water.

City Manager Steve Powers said it’s left citizens scratching their heads.

“The on-gain off-again nature of the advisory was causing confusion,” Powers said. “Extending the advisory until we can ensure our water customers, our residents, that the water is safe to drink is the best course of action.”

The advisory will remain in effect while officials test whether powdered carbon can eliminate the toxins. That would cost millions of dollars, but it could at last provide some certainty.

Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for OPB. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.