The city water system of Stuart, Fla. may have become contaminated, city officials said on April 9, forcing a boil-water notice that is expected to last a week.
It is unclear whether the possible contamination is due to a communications failure or an actual malfunction of the water system’s equipment, TCPalm says.
City spokesman Ben Hogarth said that the boil-water notice will affect about 17,300 people included in 4,200 accounts, “probably (for) the rest of the work week,” TCPalm says.
WPTV says the city’s official social media accounts have posted more information about the notice.
Until the water is tested for bacteria and it is ensured that the water is safe for consumption, both residents and businesses must bring their water to a rolling boil for a full minute before using it for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, washing fruit, or making ice, city officials sad.
Residents who are unable to boil water are encouraged to use water purification tablets or iodine sold by sports and camping stores before consuming tap water.
Concerns began when the city planned to use a backup generator during a power outage scheduled by Florida Power & Light Company. However, TCPalm says, the outage never occurred due to the weather.
Hogarth told TCPalm the city switched to generator power anyway. “The generator ran all night,” he said. “We were still on generator at the time the (generator) failure happened.”
The lack of communication that resulted in Stuart switching to generator power is still being investigated. “We’re in the process of trying to figure out what went wrong,” Hogarth said. He also said he didn’t know if FPL notified the city of the planned outage’s cancellation.
While Gibbs said that FPL typically provides updates about planned outages and related information, he could not immediately confirm or deny whether FPL had contacted Stuart regarding the cancellation.
The water pressure dropped at Stuart’s water-treatment facility on Palm Beach Road when the generator failed. When the facility’s water pressure falls below 20 psi, it is possible for bacteria to enter the system—the reason for the precautionary boil-water notice issued to Stuart residents and business owners.
Three Martin County school and 12 healthcare facilities are also affected by the water’s potential contamination, TCPalm reports. The school district has promised to provide water to these three schools, but parents are still advised to send a water bottle to school with their children until the advisory is lifted.
Spokesman Scott Samples says that health facilities, including Martin Medical Center and some outpatient locations, have placed warning signs at all water fountains and are providing bottled water to patients and staff.