Mercer Island issues second boil-water advisory, closes all restaurants (PHOTOS)

MERCER ISLAND -- Mercer Island issued its second boil-water advisory Thursday, ordering all restaurants to close as the city's drinking water was found to be contaminated with E. Coli, health officials said.

Test results indicate E. Coli and Total Coliform -- both potentially harmful to humans -- were found in the city's water Thursday. As a result, Mercer Island issued its second boil-water advisory in less than a week and requests all city residents to boil their water before drinking or use bottled water.

The city's 62 restaurants were ordered closed by Public Health -- Seattle & King County, officials said. Restaurants, coffee shops and delis are all affected.

Mercer Island School officials said schools would remain open, saying appropriate precautions such as changed lunch menus and portable washing stations are in place.

"We are planning a normal school day for the remainder of today and tomorrow's schedule is planned as normal," Mercer Island Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano said.

There are no reports of illness at this time, the  City of Mercer Island said.

Officials are still not sure of the cause of the E. Coli tainted water.

All other Seattle Public Utilities water is safe for drinking, officials said, as the problem is exclusive to Mercer Island.

Seattle Public Utilities, the city’s water provider, routinely collects 18 samples each month from the Mercer Island water distribution system. Test samples collected on September 26th came back the next day showing the presence of E. coli — indicating the water may be unsafe to drink, officials said.

The city is continuing to flush water mains in potential problem areas and ensure chlorine levels are adequate, city officials said.

Boiled or purchased bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice. Bring the water to a boil, let it boil for at least 1 minute, and let it cool before using, officials said. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms that could potentially be in the water.

Dishwashers can be used if run with the sanitizing/heat cycle and commercial dish-washing detergent. Dishes can be hand washed if rinsed in a diluted bleach solution – one teaspoon household bleach to one gallon of water – and then allowed to air dry.

Water can be used for bathing, but do not drink any of the water and do not allow babies to put the water or wet washcloth in the mouth.

Residents with concerns or questions should call the City of Mercer Island hotline at 206-275-7800, or visit the city's website. Restaurants owners should call (206) 263-9566 for guidance.

The city planned to hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.