The City of Myrtle Creek lifted a drinking water advisory Tuesday night after two rounds of tests showed diesel fuel contamination was below harmful levels.

Taste and odor effects may remain in the water from a diesel fuel spill that leaked into the city’s primary drinking water source Monday, according to a press release from the city.

The city shut off the Springbrook Water Treatment Plant and told water customers not to use water for any purpose Monday morning after multiple residents reported a gasoline-like smell in their water. The South Umpqua Water Treatment Plant, the city’s secondary water source, was activated about 10:30 a.m. and the city began flushing the distribution system.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the city and NRC Environmental Services Inc. investigated the apparent site of the diesel spill near Springbrook Road on Tuesday morning, said DEQ spokeswoman Katherine Benenati in an email.

The precise cause of the diesel spill was still under investigation by Tuesday afternoon, however.

“Staff from the city, DEQ, and NRC entered the spill site, which consists of a 25-foot length of ditch along a driveway where it looks like someone drove a vehicle off the road,” Benenati said.

Officials saw a trickle of water with a sheen flowing down the ditch toward Harrison Young Brook, she said.

“There was some sheening visible on the brook, but no recoverable product and only a light odor,” Benenati said, adding conditions on the brook appeared to have improved since Monday.

DEQ and NRC excavated 1-2 yards of contaminated soil along the ditch Tuesday. They also placed absorbents in the ditch to further remove contamination, according to Benenati.

Two rounds of water tests throughout the city’s water distribution system Tuesday showed contamination levels were below DEQ thresholds, according to a Tuesday night press release from the city.

“Samples of the drinking water pulled from the distribution system show low level detects for both gasoline and diesel,” the press release said.

Even though the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Health Authority don’t have maximum contaminant thresholds for gasoline or diesel, concentrations were below DEQ’s Risk Based Concentration Levels.

“If you find the taste or odor too strong, do not use the water for drinking or cooking,” the press release said. City staff “will continue to flush hydrants throughout the system to ensure the safety of our drinking water.”

Test results are available for public viewing at Myrtle Creek City Hall by appointment.

Residents who might have consumed or been exposed to contaminated water are advised to contact their doctor immediately and mention the water issue if they experience any negative health effects, Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said.

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

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