The boil-water advisory that has been in effect for Fort Lauderdale and surrounding cities for the past two days won’t be lifted until Sunday at the earliest — and that’s only if the results from microbiological sampling over the weekend turn up clean.
The boil-water notice, which resulted from a water-main burst in Fort Lauderdale, has been active for more than 220,000 residents of the city and neighboring areas that receive their water from Fort Lauderdale. Damage to the water pipe caused a water outage on Thursday.
The advisory covers Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Oakland Park, Port Everglades Authority, Village of Sea Ranch Lakes, Wilton Manors and sections of Davie and Tamarac east of U.S. Highway 441.
Two rounds of testing
Before it can be lifted, two consecutive rounds of water-quality testing must have clean at 89 test sites across the entire service area, which spans from Davie to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea to Tamarac, a Fort Lauderdale spokesman said.
The first round of testing took place Saturday, and the city of Fort Lauderdale expects the results back later in the day, said spokesman Chaz Adams.
The second round of testing will take place Sunday, and those results are expected later that day. If both tests turn up negative for contamination, the city can lift the boil-water advisory as soon as Sunday afternoon.
“The tests started yesterday,” Adams said. “If both rounds of tests pass, then we’ll be able to lift the boil-water notice at some point tomorrow.”
He said the city tests its water supply daily for possible contaminants.
State of emergency
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis issued a local state of emergency Thursday after a Florida Power & Light subcontractor damaged the water-main pipe at Florida Executive Airport. An on-site supervisor for the subcontractor was issued a notice to appear in Broward Court for working without city permits.
The 42-inch pipe has been temporarily repaired and water was restored Thursday. But the boil-water notice remained in effect on Saturday. The water main supplies raw water from Fort Lauderdale’s wellfields to the Fiveash water treatment plant. Crews are now focused on a permanent fix.
“Crews continue to assess and exercise valves surrounding the location of the repaired pipe,” the city said in an update on its website Saturday. “Currently, all of the valves are operating properly. Work will continue on the valves in preparation for the permanent repair.”
Early next week, the city says, crews will redirect the flow of the water to then replace the damaged pipe and permanently fix the line. Interruptions to water service are not expected.
Why is there a boil-water advisory?
The boil-water advisory, which sparked supermarket raids and long lines for city-provided bottled water, asks that residents to use bottled water or boil tap water used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food. Boiling kills bacteria and other microbiological organisms in the water.
The same goes for water that pets drink.
Water-main breaks or drops in water pressure require precautionary water-boil notices in most cases, according to the Florida Department of Health.
“Microbiological samples shall be collected immediately within the area affected at several locations, and measures shall be taken expeditiously to restore the integrity of the water system,” the health department writes on its website.
Common symptoms of water-borne illnesses contracted in these cases may include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and fatigue, according to a Texas A&M University Corpus Christi safety guide. Young children, pregnant women and older people may be more susceptible to becoming ill. Symptoms can appear in a few hours to several days after getting infected.
Free bottled water
Gov. Ron DeSantis sent semi-trucks of bottled water to the affected areas on Thursday.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said the malfunction of a back-up water line may be linked to aging infrastructure, which he said was installed up to 60 years ago.
The city said it would distribute bottled water from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and beginning at 8 a.m. on Sunday at the following locations: Beach Community Center, 3351 NE 33rd Ave.; Mills Pond Park, 2201 NW Ninth Ave., Riverland Park, 950 SW 27th Ave.