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200 S. Ivy St. - RM 177
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: 541-774-2728
Fax: 541-826-5402
Contact: Benjamin Klayman, Water Treatment & Quality Director
Email: ben.klayman@medfor. . .
Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Medford Water Commission

Medford Water Commission - 541.774.2430
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

When returning to your home or business after a fire, there are items to consider to help safeguard your water quality.

During periods of long stagnation (such as a home being unoccupied for several days), water can pick up off-tastes, odors, or colors from sitting in the pipes inside your house, especially in older plumbing systems.

In addition, fire can cause damage to water system plumbing, and plastic pipe materials are particularly susceptible to fire damage. In spite of the Commissionís high-quality water supply, plastic pipe that is damaged by fire can release contamination in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as Benzene, into the water. These compounds can cause the water to have an odor similar to gasoline and may have adverse health impacts at elevated concentrations. 

Residents who are concerned about possible benzene or other contamination should thoroughly flush all their pipes and in-building components (water heater, ice maker, etc). Flushing is accomplished by undertaking the following:
  1. Cold water: allow each water tap (sinks, showers, outside hose-bibs, etc.) to run for about 5 minutes (multiple taps can be run at the same time but maintain vigorous flow).
  2. Hot water: allow each hot water tap to run until the water turns cold.
  3. Refrigerators and other water dispensers (such as under-sink filtration systems): run the water for several minutes, and then replace the filter if present.
  4. Ice makers: follow the manufacturerís instructions for cleaning ice maker water lines, dispose of any existing ice, and dispose the ice from three refills. 
If your home or business has plastic piping and has been damaged by fire, you may consider having your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Neilson Research Corporation is the only certified independent water testing laboratory in our area; their phone number is (541) 770-5678. If you are not a Medford Water Commission customer, contact your local jurisdictions to learn more about the pipe materials in your local water system.
 
Boiling will not remove these contaminants and should not be used as a barrier if you think you may be impacted with these issues.
 
For help, contact our Customer Service Department at (541) 774-2430 during normal business hours. Find the full Customer Guidance Regarding Water Quality in Buildings Located in Areas Damaged by Wildfire from Oregon Health Authority. There is also more information on VOCs from the EPA

We have conducted water sampling for these contaminants in and around the neighborhood impacted by the Almeda Fire within our service area: Charlotte Ann Water District. See those sample results below. Individual lab results are available here.
 
Charlotte Ann Water District Special Sample Results
Sample Date Sample Location Sample Parameters Testing Method Results
9/9/2020 Hwy 99 @ South Stage Rd Total Coliform Bacteria A9223B Not detected
E. coli A9223B Not detected
9/18/2020 Hwy 99 @ South Stage Rd Benzene 524.2 Not detected
Toluene 524.2 Not detected
Ethylbenzene 524.2 Not detected
Xylene 524.2 Not detected
10/16/2020 Hwy 99 @ South Stage Rd Benzene 524.2 Not detected
Toluene 524.2 Not detected
Ethylbenzene 524.2 Not detected
Xylene 524.2 Not detected
Total Coliform Bacteria A9223B Not detected
E. coli A9223B Not detected
10/16/2020 North Ridge Estates Benzene 524.2 Not detected
Toluene 524.2 Not detected
Ethylbenzene 524.2 Not detected
Xylene 524.2 Not detected
Total Coliform Bacteria A9223B Not detected
E. coli A9223B Not detected
10/16/2020 Carefree Mobile Village Benzene 524.2 Not detected
Toluene 524.2 Not detected
Ethylbenzene 524.2 Not detected
Xylene 524.2 Not detected
Total Coliform Bacteria A9223B Not detected
E. coli A9223B Not detected
10/16/2020 Hwy 99 @ Coleman Creek Benzene 524.2 Not detected
Toluene 524.2 Not detected
Ethylbenzene 524.2 Not detected
Xylene 524.2 Not detected
Total Coliform Bacteria A9223B Not detected
E. coli A9223B Not detected


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