Salem city officials on Friday afternoon declared as “false” social media reports circulating through the community that water supplies were tainted and unsafe, but the assurances weren’t persuasive to some.
The city confirmed testing showed small amounts of cyanotoxins – – commonly known as blue-green algae – were detected in testing at the entry to the city’s treatment plant, Geren Island Water Treatment Plant.
“The treatment systems are working and the water leaving the water treatment facility is clean and safe to drink,” the city said in its own social media postings.
The city said it was testing seven days a week and posting results publicly within 24 hours.
The pushback from the city came after social media accounts asserted that city employees had been told not to drink the water and that the public would be given similar instructions on Monday.
The city said there was no such special warning.
“Our employees are getting the same information we are sharing with you,” the city’s statement said.
The suspicion of the city appears fueled by memories of Salem’s conduct last year. The city on May 25, 2018, detected cyanotoxins in the drinking supply. Four days later, it issued a message warning: “DO NOT DRINK THE TAP WATER.”
If heavily consumed, the toxins can impact vulnerable populations such as small children, the elderly and pregnant or nursing women, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
That announcement last year set off a scramble for water as stores sold out and supply trucks were brought in.
One commenter on the city’s Facebook post about the latest development questioned Friday’s announcement, writing, “Nobody trusts you guys after last year.”
Another wrote: “The city has lost our trust. Kind of hard to believe the city when they sat on results last year.”
The city’s online report Saturday morning declared the city’s water safe to drink.
The status report is available at this website: https://www.cityofsalem.net/drinking-water
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