- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Grocery stores in Los Altos reported runs on bottled water today, following a notice Sunday from Cal Water that a portion of the city’s water supply had been contaminated by E. coli and total coliform.

Yvonne Kingman, a spokeswoman for California Water Service Co., said 853 customers received the tainted water and almost 600 were contacted by phone on Sunday.

Steve Schick, a Los Altos resident, isn’t satisfied with the company’s response. In an email, he told The Daily News: “California Water knew of this early in the day, well before 2:30 p.m. They did not notify my neighborhood on Orange Avenue until 12:25 a.m. They rang our doorbell after midnight, scaring the household. I hope my elderly neighbors are alright. Why did it take so long to notify us?”

Cal Water’s advisory said the company detected bacteria in the water Sunday and explained that “E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.”

The company advised customers that “if you experience the symptoms and they persist, you may wish to seek medical advice. E. coli may pose a special risk to infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.”

Residents were advised to boil their water for one minute before using it for drinking, cooking or brushing teeth.

Or they could use bottled water, which is what led to a run on supplies at Andronico’s, Draeger’s Market, Safeway and other grocery stores in the area.

Andrea Tellez, manager at Andronico’s in Los Altos, said she noticed a surge in bottled water purchases Sunday evening, called Andronico’s risk manager who had been in contact with Cal Water, then called her supplier to order extra bottled water delivered to the store.

“We haven’t run out,” Tellez said, “and we have a couple of more pallets on the way.”

Ricardo Flamenco, a manager at Draeger’s, said that supplies were low early this afternoon, but he’d ordered an extra pallet to be delivered.

Schick’s email mentioned that the Los Altos Safeway had almost run out of bottled water by 8:15 a.m. today. A call to that store confirmed the shortage before The Daily News was referred to Safeway’s corporate office, which did not respond.

Cal Water’s advisory said the bacteria was spotted after a main repair had been made Friday. More testing has been ordered, and results are expected by Wednesday. Cal Water said it would notify residents when it is safe to drink again and cook using tap water without boiling it. “Tap water is safe for showering, bathing and other household uses,” said the notice.

The water service area affected by the contaminated water is between Foothill Expressway and Interstate 280, roughly from La Paloma Road south to Magdalena Drive. A map of the area can be seen at bit.ly/1U2MVku

Email John Orr at [email protected]

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(c)2015 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.)

Visit the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.) at www.paloaltodailynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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