It took nearly two weeks, but an issue with the water at Whiteaker Middle School was finally resolved last week.
Julia DeWitt, principal of the middle school located at 1605 Lockhaven Drive NE, said sediment was finally cleared and the water service interruption ended on Jan. 18.
“The origin of the issue stemmed from a maintenance service over the winter break,” DeWitt said. “Our fire suppression system was flushed by an outside contractor. Through the process of pushing a large volume of water and high amount of pressure, manganese from Keizer’s main lines broke loose and entered Whiteaker’s domestic water supply/lines.”
DeWitt said school leaders consulted with the Marion County Environmental Health Department and Keizer City Water Department.
“We flushed our lines over a series of days until it ran clear everywhere,” she said. “Then, we followed with tests for bacteria, metals (pipe degradation) and pH levels – all of which have come back clear – before going back online.”
DeWitt said the process took about two weeks.
“Our service interruption lasted from the morning we returned from the winter break, Jan. 5 through Jan. 18,” she said. “It took a solid eight days of flushing Whiteaker’s water lines for our water to run clear of sediment. The additional days were due to waiting on final lab results.”
During the water service interruption, the Salem Keizer School District provided bottled drinking water and handwashing stations for staff and students to use.
DeWitt had high praise for all involved.
“Whiteaker’s staff and students were amazing through this time,” she said. “Everyone stayed focused on learning. It was business as usual. I attribute this to our strong school community, as well as to the outstanding support from several Salem-Keizer departments. They ensured that our daily water needs were provided for and partnered for a plan to resolve the issue.”
As far as DeWitt could tell, the issue was isolated to WMS.
“During this time, the Keizer Water Department said they have not had any other complaints in the area and they have not been doing any flushing of lines,” DeWitt said.