Drink up, Burlington! The city has lifted its first boil-water notice in recent memory.
About 2,500 water-users were under the advisory for a little more than 24 hours after a valve break on July 1 knocked out water pressure to a large swath of the South End.
The city received water test results Wednesday morning, which indicated no evidence of contamination, according to Robert Goulding, Burlington Department of Public Works’ spokesperson.
DPW continues to investigate the root cause of the issue but suggested Tuesday that it was likely due to simultaneous water line projects in the area.
A word of caution, South Enders: Don’t drink the water.
On Tuesday, the City of Burlington issued its first boil water notice in two decades after a valve break overnight on July 1 caused a significant portion of the South End to lose water pressure.
The notice affects about a quarter of the people who live in the Queen City, plus numerous local businesses, Megan Moir, Burlington’s water resources division director said during a press conference call Tuesday afternoon. Affected areas include south of the Shelburne Street/Clymer Street intersection, on Flynn Avenue and locales south of there, city officials said.
The notice will be in effect until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, if lab tests confirm then that there’s no bacteria in the water, Burlington Public Works Department spokesperson Robert Goulding said. It can take 18 hours to run the tests, Moir said.
Water service was restored by 10:30 a.m., but there may still be a health risk in drinking the water without boiling it first. When water pressure fluctuates, “the possibility exists for bacteria or other harmful organisms to enter the water distribution system,” according to the press release.
The likelihood of contamination is slim, but the city issued the notice “out of an abundance of caution” and to comply with state regulations, Moir said. Water operators were first alerted to a potential problem when numerous residents called about losing water pressure, she said.
The city is investigating the situation but suspects the issue relates to several ongoing water projects in the South End. There’s a water main project at Pine Street and Flynn Avenue, “where significant work was required due to the age and condition of the infrastructure” and on Shelburne Street, Goulding said. A failure in the latter project created a sinkhole earlier this year, he said.
“Our analysis of the potential impacts of those two jobs going on at the same time may have been faulty,” Moir said on the press call. “That’s what we’re looking into.”
In the meantime, water users should boil water for a minute and let it cool before drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or preparing food, or they can use bottled water until the notice is lifted. The city is also offering bottled water to “people with medical hardships” or if residents can’t boil their own water, Moir said.
“Public health is of utmost importance to us, and when there’s any potential chance [of contamination], we’re going to make that call to be most protective,” Goulding said.
People with compromised immune systems, including infants and the elderly, may be at increased risk. Water users can call the Burlington Water Resources Division at 863-4501 for additional information or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 for other safe-drinking tips.
Updates on the water situation will be posted here.