One square mile near the central waterfront of Des Moines has been under a water boil order since Saturday, when a routine test uncovered traces of e. Coli bacteria at two separate sites.

Washington state Department of Health officials issued the boil order and outlined the affected area: S. 212th Street to the north, Puget Sound to the west, Kent-Des Moines Road to the south and 14th Avenue to the east. About 5,000 families and businesses are affected.

It won t be known until Tuesday or Wednesday when the order will be lifted. Residents can pick up free bottled water from the water district office located at 922 S. 219 Street.

The water district is flushing the entire system after a routine test found traces of e.Coli. State inspectors are trying to pinpoint the cause of contamination, but the water district is skeptical as to whether the public is even at risk. Out of six test sites only one tested positive for e.Coli.

Preliminarily, we believe it came from a sampling process and it came from exterior spigot, not the water said Water District 54 Commissioner Vic Pennington. There is a lot of public traffic there, a lot of people walking their dogs and that type of thing. So that may be what the source was.

State health officials, however, says it still poses a possible health risk to the public, hence the boil order.

Testing showed the presence of E. coli bacteria, and while the source of that contamination hasn t been found, it poses a possible health risk for people who drink or use that water without boiling it first, said state Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer. We re working with the system operator to find and fix the problem, and meanwhile, the boil water advisory remains in effect because we won t take chances with people s health.

The boil order is affecting restaurants and other businesses, many which have closed as a result.

The cost to flush the system won t be known until the district gets the bill next month.

KING 5's Jake Whittenberg contributed to this report

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