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Oldsmar issues water alert after line breaks

OLDSMAR — All city residents must boil their water until further notice because part of the city's main water transmission line along Forest Lakes Boulevard split in two about midnight Wednesday.

City officials say a rolling boil of one minute will be sufficient to kill any bacteria that might be present in water used for cooking or drinking.

The notice was expected to last at least 48 hours from the time it was announced Thursday morning. No water outages or loss in water pressure is expected while the notice is in effect.

"This is the only full-city boil water notice that we've issued in my 12 years here," said John Mulvihill, Oldsmar's director of public works.

Oldsmar's 5,000-plus water customers get their water from Pinellas County in a transmission line that runs from the southern edge of the Brooker Creek Preserve, then south on Pine Avenue, east on Forest Lakes Boulevard and south on Commerce Boulevard to Oldsmar's pumping station.

As a result of the advisory, businesses and schools turned to alternatives to the water they normally would use.

At Forest Lakes and Oldsmar elementary schools, administrators immediately shut off drinking fountains, provided bottled water for students and sent home a notice asking parents to send bottled water for their kids today, school district spokeswoman Andrea Zahn said.

When it comes to school lunches, each school's cafeteria can make today's lunches using canned fruits and vegetables, as well as pizza, prepared sandwiches, chicken, hamburgers or other foods that do not have to be cooked with water.

"We're still able to provide lunch selections for students that would not require the use of water in their preparation," Zahn said.

School cafeteria workers will use boiled water to wash dishes and cookware, she said.

At the two restaurants run by Tony Falso's family, employees brought in bagged ice and took other steps to keep business going.

"It's obviously never a good thing when you've got a boil water notice, especially in the restaurant business," Falso said.

At Eve's Family Restaurant in the Woodlands Square Shopping Center, employees brought in bottled soda and boiled the water used to make coffee and tea, Falso said. The dishwater, which uses a chemical sanitizer and water heated to more than 180 degrees, wasn't affected, he said.

Two miles away, at the Oldsmar Tap House in the Oldsmar Galleria, the fare consists of about three dozen varieties of beer — no problem there — and deli food served on disposable cardboard plates, so the effect of the boil water advisory was negligible, Falso said.

City officials issued the boil notice after a rupture in a 16-inch pipe that was about 10 years old, Mulvihill said. He said the pipe shouldn't have split at that age.

"Don't know why at this point," he said Thursday. "We will know more after we get it out of the ground."

After the rupture, officials shut off valves and diverted water through an 8-inch pipe nearby. Water service was never interrupted.

The water that flowed through the smaller pipe starting at midnight Wednesday is safe, according to Mulvihill. The boil notice is a safety precaution for when the new stretch of water main is put back into service, he said, probably late Thursday.

Once the main line is repaired, Oldsmar will chlorinate it and flush it, and take bacteria samples upstream and downstream from the break.

When water samples show no harmful bacteria for two days in a row, the boil water notice will be lifted.

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

>>Fast facts

To learn more

Go to www.ci.oldsmar.fl.us, watch Oldsmar's cable channel at Bright House 615, Knology 15 and Verizon 43, or call the city's water division at (813) 749-1226 or (813) 433-8131.

Oldsmar issues water alert after line breaks 03/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2008 8:53pm]

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