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Bacteria found in well at Ken's Korner center

A sample of the water system used by businesses at Ken's Korner tested positive for the e. coli bacteria July 18.

The sample was tested following the routine monthly screening of the system managed by King Water Management in Coupeville.

Keith Higman, Island County Environmental Health director, said the e. coli bacteria found in the well "is not the more-toxic e. coli 0157 associated with the contaminated meat served by Jack in the Box restaurants several years ago."

As soon as the test results were known by King Water, the management faxed "boil water" notices and telephoned store managers and owners.

"We immediately jumped into action," said Susie King.

"We informed everyone on the system within one half-hour of our notification of the test results," King said.

Boil water notices were immediately posted at water sources and will remain until more test results are in.

Businesses in the shopping mall reacted quickly to take precautions.

"As a precautionary measure we are using bottled, purified water on our produce," said Red Apple manager Jim Springer. "We have shut down the soda machines, and our coffee water is filtered and steamed."

"The initial test," Springer said, "was from a faucet in a little room between the stores. The faucet hasn't been used for a long time."

Trattoria Giuseppe was informed of the test results at the beginning of the Thursday night dinner hour.

"We are taking all the precautions necessary until the additional test results are in," said owner Jennifer Mauro. "In the restaurant we are serving bottled water, using purchased ice and canned soda rather than our soda machines. We have also brought in coffeemakers and are using bottled water in them rather than our plumbed-in coffee machines.

"All produce is washed with bottled water and cooking water is boiled to a rolling boil. We are doing everything we can."

Further tests were conducted Friday morning at the well, the reservoir, the site of the original contamination and near Les Schwab, because it is the farthest building on the site.

"That way we can tell if the first test was accurate or just an anomaly," King said.

Results are expected today.

State law does not require notification of water system users on the first test. But, King said, "When people's health is involved we wanted to keep everyone informed."

Following the additional tests on Friday morning, King Water heavily chlorinated the reservoir.

"If the additional tests are a positive, we will go into an attack mode and totally flush and clean the system," King said.

King Water manages 140 wells on Whidbey Island and has managed the Ken's Korner's system since 1996.

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