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Broken water main causes drinking-water crisis in Dunedin

DUNEDIN — City officials responding to the severing of Honeymoon Island's largest water main said Friday morning that the crisis demanded immediate conservation citywide, including reducing toilet flushing and shortening showers.

Utility workers reduced the city's outgoing water pressure on Wednesday, a day after bridge workers slashed the 20-inch high-density pipe connecting Florida's busiest state park and the Royal Stewart Arms condo complex to the Dunedin coastline.

The water is still safe to drink, officials said. Yet they urged residents to not water or wash their homes, lawns or cars, to only run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads, and to turn off the water during shaving and brushing their teeth. Homeowners tapped into reclaimed water may still irrigate.

Dunedin is one of two cities in Pinellas County to provide all of its own water from within city limits. (Belleair is the other.) Almost all other cities import water from regional supplier Tampa Bay Water. In Dunedin, brackish water is pumped from the city's wellfield, funneled into its reverse osmosis treatment plant and distributed.

Nearly 1.5 million gallons a day of the treated water is spilling into the Intracoastal Waterway from the pipe, at a cost of about $2,000 a day, public works director Douglas Hutchens said Thursday night.

The pipe, located 32 feet below the water's surface, will need to be replaced, a process that could take weeks and cost about $750,000.

Residents will meet at the Royal Stewart Arms clubhouse at 2 p.m. Friday for a meeting with city leaders.

Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Broken water main causes drinking-water crisis in Dunedin 02/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 12:59pm]
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