Water Contamination Worries Arise at Rainbow Camp

Water Contamination Worries Arise at Rainbow Camp

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John Hollenhorst ReportingRainbow family members from around the country continue to pour into the Unita mountains the day before a big 4th of July prayer circle.

Generally the event has been peaceful but today a new concern was raised -- water contamination.

Over the last few weeks a community of at least ten-thousand pepole,perhaps as many as 20-thousand, has sprouted in the forest of the high Uinta's, and like any large town the Rainbows are having sanitation problems.

The Rainbows generally eat food prepared in big community kitchens. There was an outbreak of food poisoning at a Rainbow camp in 1987. So far no food problems have been reported here.

But the water system is problematic. A huge network of PVC pipes has been installed to carry water from springs. The pipes tend to be leaky.

At water distrubution points the filtering system is designed to ensure clean water but it's not perfect. County health officials have taken samples and some of the filtered water is beginning to test postive for fecal bacteria.

Health workers theorize that some Rainbows don't adequately wash their hands after using the latrines and some may later have handled the water filters. Also hundreds of dogs in the camps may be contriubting to the problem.

At this point no one considers this an emergency but health problems could result and that's why health officials are recommending Rainbows boil their water no matter if it's been filtered or not.

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