Monday, March 5, 2012

Water Boils Over…

I was on my way home when I saw it. A lot of water where a lot of water didn't belong. To many of you driving home on Monday afternoon it was an oddly large puddle in the road where South Broad Street and West Walnut Street . To us, it was the beginning of a long night.

By 5 pm, a small team of public works employees had returned to work and were busy preparing to reroute traffic on Broad Street and locate and repair what was becoming a pretty significant leak from the main water line that runs under the south bound lane of Broad Street. You probably never think of the water and sewer infrastructure that is under the roads you travel on, but we do.

As the evening wore on, the size of the problem would become even more apparent as your public works crews uncovered the main water line. Additional personnel were called in to assist with the removal and replacement of several feet of water main that had ruptured due to the age of the pipe. As temperatures fell and while many of you were watching the Daytona 500, your public works director and the majority of your water and sewer employees were working to restore pressure, replace worn out pipe, and get the roadway put back together before you left for work in the morning. If you were watching the Daytona race, you saw race teams working together to keep their cars on the track. If you were driving on South Broad Street Monday night you saw a team of city employees working hard to keep their city on track. Once the repair was completed, the city issued a Boil Water Advisory.

A Boil Water Advisory, like the one issued last week, is simply a precautionary statement that is issued by the city when something has happened which may cause the water distribution system to become contaminated. In the case of the most recent advisory, the incident which had the possibility to cause a contamination event was a water main break. Other incidents that might trigger advisories include instances when contaminated water may have reached the distribution system, line breaks that may allow for dirt and debris to enter the pipes during the repair, or extreme losses of water pressure in the distribution system. When an advisory is issued, the city will notify local media outlets, including the news media and local tv stations. We also issued the most recent advisory on our city Facebook page and on our city website at

The chances of getting sick from water during a Boil Water Advisory is very small, however, your children, the elderly, and people who may already be sick may have a greater chance of getting sick in the rare event that bacteria are in the water during an advisory.

A Boil Water Notice is issued when contamination of the water distribution system has been confirmed. This means that tests have found some contamination in the water. When a notice is issued the city notifies local media and takes the extra step of sending city workers throughout the impacted neighborhood to notify residents and business owners of the situation. Individual contact with each homeowner and business was not made Monday night because the city issued a simple advisory, and not a Boil Water Notice.

When a notice or advisory is issued, you should boil water for one minute before using it as drinking water, using it to brush your teeth, providing it to pets, using it for cooking, or using it to wash food. Your water is safe to shower or bathe in, and you can continue to do laundry, water lawns, and use water as you normally would. The only difference is that you should boil any water you will consume. Any ice you may have made during the advisory or notice period should be discarded.

An advisory or a notice will be lifted when two water samples taken 24 hours apart show no contamination. When the city lifts an advisory or notice, the information is made available to local media outlets. Once a notice has been lifted, you should take a few minutes to flush your residential water system by running you water for approximately one minute.

If your home has a water filter, you should still take the step of boiling your water since many water filters are only designed to impact the taste of water but may not remove bacteria and other contaminants.

Remember that a Boil Water Advisory is issued when there is a chance of contamination and not because there is actual contamination. The more serious Boil Water Notice is issued when there is a confirmed contamination of water. The city takes more aggressive steps as required when a notice is issued. Rest assured that safe drinking water is one of your city's top priorities, and when a line breaks, your public works department will not rest until the break is repaired and your service is restored.