The Cecil Hotel downtown was all but abandoned by most if not all of its short-term guests as the L.A. County health department issued a “do not use water” order following the discovery of a missing tourist's body in one of its water tanks this week:
About 15 long-term guests remain and use bottled water; 55 others were relocated after the hotel's water system was essentially condemned by the department, Angelo Bellomo, L.A. County's director of Environmental Health told the Weekly.
The good news?
Initial testing for coliform bacteria — an element of human waste — came back negative, he said.
Water samples were taken on Tuesday, the day the body of 21-year-old Canadian Elisa Lam was found inside one of the hotel's tanks. She had last been seen on Jan. 21 and police said they suspected foul play in her disappearance.
Bellomo said samples were taken from different parts of the building, including the tank where Lam was found. That tank, he said, would probably be taken offline permanently. (A hole was cut into it so that rescuers could retrieve the body).
Testing coloform is the basic, global standard for drinking water quality, Bellomo said, and would indicate any issues with the hotel's supply. That said, the water would be retested in a few days.
In the meantime the department and the hotel agreed that over the next two to three days the hotel's water system would be flushed and filled with chlorine-heavy water and flushed again before another round of more rigorous tests would be conducted and, if negative, guests could be given a green light to use the water, Bellomo told us.
Under the county's orders, the water at the Cecil can't be used for anything but “flushing,” he said.
The hotel's restaurant, dubbed a cafeteria, is a whole other story: It voluntarily shut down Tuesday, but Bellomo said getting approval to reopen would be more complicated, as it might have equipment dependent on the hotel's water supply that needs to be cleaned and flushed.