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DHS news release

Sept. 3, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

Technical contacts: Ken Kauffman, DHS (503)-731-4012; Sylvia Mireles, Josephine Co. Health Dept. (541) 474-5325; Ray Campbell, Josephine County Health Dept. (541) 474-5325; Steve Schalk, Josephine County Parks Dept. (541) 474-5285


New drinking water advisory at Lake Selmac, Josephine County

Officials are issuing new restrictions on public water uses at Lake Selmac, near the town of Selma, 22 miles south of Grants Pass. An advisory was issued today by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), Josephine County Health Department and Josephine County Parks Department.

On August 19, DHS and Josephine County officials issued an advisory against water contact at Lake Selmac, and at the same time closed down the public drinking water system serving the park facilities there.

Testing of raw and treated water for algae toxins in the following two weeks showed that the treatment processes for the drinking water were adequate, and operation of the public drinking water system was resumed. However, the warning against any contact with lake water remained in effect, along with a recommendation that fish from the lake not be used for food for the duration of the algae bloom.

The bloom has become much more severe and piped water at the park facilities should not be ingested, used for toothbrushing or for bathing, said Ken Kauffman, DHS environmental health specialist.

Park toilets and handwashing facilities will continue to operate, but no other uses should be made of the piped water. Kauffman advises that supervision of small children and pets to avoid contact with lake water or any ingestion of piped water at the parks is especially important

The bloom and the condition of the water will be monitored until the bloom subsides. The public will be advised when health concerns no longer exist.

Additional information about blue-green algae can be found at the DHS public health advisories Web site, or by calling the contact persons indicated above. Local information may be obtained by calling the Josephine County Health Department at (541) 474-5325 or the Josephine County Parks Department at (541) 474-5285.