33 Airway Heights area restaurants asked to keep city water out of food and beverages

Health officials have asked some Airway Heights restaurants not to use city well water to wash vegetables and cook food.

The Spokane Regional Health District contacted 33 retail food businesses west of Hayford Road, said Lisa Breen, the food program technical adviser. Those restaurants draw water from two city wells found to contain potentially dangerous chemicals used for decades by nearby Fairchild Air Force Base.

The health district will not enforce the recommendations.

“The onus is put on the operators to be doing what they should be doing,” Breen said.

Restaurants are able to wash dishes with the contaminated water, she said. The recommendations mirror guidance given by the city of Airway Heights on Wednesday.

“We’re not going to ask you to destroy food, but we are going to ask you to carry forward with only using potable water at this point,” Breen said.

Breen said the health district did not contact wholesale food and beverage production facilities because they do not license them.

Airway Heights water contamination

Read our coverage of the developing water contamination issues that have caused all residents within the Airway Heights city limits to be advised to avoid drinking and cooking with city tap water amid findings chemical contamination at Fairchild Air Force Base threatened purity of residential wells. | SPECIAL SECTION »

Sala Thai restaurant owner Pat Smipamorn said he’s been cooking with bottled water. He uses between 50 and 65 gallons a day. He hopes the city of Airway Heights reimburses him for the cost, so he’s saving the receipts.

Barbara Davis, co-owner of Wolffy’s Hamburgers, said she didn’t wait for the health department to contact her. She started throwing away pre-made chili and soups in addition to tossing 500 pounds of ice. Like Smipamorn, she is washing all produce with bottled water and serving canned soda and bottled water.

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