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Officials: Continue boiling water

Carole Cornell took no chances. Not for her children, and not for her beloved Siamese cat, Sapphire.

When she heard that a precautionary warning to boil water or use bottled water had been issued after a major water main broke in Odessa, the Lake Padgett South resident heeded the advice.

Friday morning, her five children brushed their teeth using bottled water. Cornell poured some from the bottle into Sapphire's bowl.

"It's a pain, but I don't want them to get sick," she said. "I'm not going to run the risk."

The West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority issued the alert after its 84-inch main ruptured Thursday afternoon east of Gunn Highway and State Road 54.

The notice affects Pasco County Utilities customers in Lake Padgett, Wyndham Lakes, Parker Point, Fairway Springs and Ellington Place subdivisions.

It does not affect customers served by private companies such as Mad Hatter Utility and Aloha Utilities.

On Friday, pipe repairs seemed ahead of schedule, said Michelle Klase, West Coast spokeswoman.

"Everything went well through the night," Klase said. "We've removed the ruptured pipe and are preparing the joints to put the new pipe back into the ground. We're optimistic that we can be back in service Monday, if not before."

Meanwhile, the precautionary warning stands: Boil water before cooking and drinking, or use bottled water.

Steve Gogas, owner of Steve's Fountain View Restaurant in Land O'Lakes, is a county water customer. Drinking water already goes through a purifier, so he took no extra precautions with it Friday. However, cooks boiled water before adding ingredients for meals.

Land O'Lakes schools were not affected by the alert, although Pine View Middle School principal Dave Estabrook thought his campus might be.

Early Friday morning, before school started, workers started shutting down water fountains and Estabrook was making plans to order bottled water. However, health officials cleared Pine View for drinking and the water fountains flowed again.

"I feel fortunate we didn't have to take all the precautions, but we were ready if we had to," Estabrook said.

The health alert is not mandatory, but officials recommend following them out of an abundance of caution. The pipe rupture might have caused contamination of the water supply, and officials think residents would be better safe than sorry.

Bacteria test results were expected late Friday or today, Klase said.

Cornell, who heard about the alert on television late Thursday night, did not think West Coast did an adequate job spreading the word.

Klase disagrees.

"As soon as we got word from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, about 4:30, we did spring into action," she said. "We got the information out to the electronic media Thursday afternoon, and then to the newspapers."