DES MOINES, Wash.- Dozens of restaurants in the Des Moines area remain closed after officials detected E. coli bacteria in the water supply, according to a county health official. Nearly 40 restaurants, including Auntie Irene's coffee shop, were notified about the issue with the tap water Saturday night.
"We are just in a holding pattern right now," owner Steve Lauritsen said.
Health officials are urging residents to boil tap water before using it. A spokesperson with the King County Department of Public Health said state code specifies that restaurants must close when a boil order is issued.
A sign now hangs outside Auntie Irene's explaining the situation. Across the street at New Tokyo Teriyaki, owner James Ha expressed concerns about the safety of his customers and residents in the area. He is also worried about how this could financially impact small restaurants.
"Most of them were closed up. There weren't any cars in the parking lot, which meant they were turning their customers away," Ha said.
King County Water District #54 Commissioner Victor Pennington said routine water samples were taken and 1 of the 6 came back with E. coli present.
"We are confident that it wasn't the aquifer or the reservoirs that are contaminated. We think it was just the spigot where the sample was drawn from," Pennington said.
According to the district, officials are taking drastic precautions until they can resolve the issue. Officials expect the boil water advisory to be lifted later this week.
The advisory affects the area southward from South 212th Street to the Kent-Des Moines Road and eastward from Puget Sound to 14th Avenue
Residents can pick up bottled water from the water district office located at 922 S. 219 Street.