FL: West Broward residents under boil-water order

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West Broward residents under boil-water order

sun-sentinel.com staff Web-posted: 9:51 a.m. May 13, 2000

updated at 5:15 p.m. SUNRISE -- Residents of west Broward are under a boil-water order until further notice due to a large water main break early Saturday. Officials aren't sure when the water will be safe to drink, but expect the order to last until Monday. Water can be used for bathing and laundry, but must be boiled before being consumed, said Don Bayler, assistant utility director. The break has been repaired, but workers will be testing the water gradually throughout the city until it is deemed safe to drink, Bayler said. The affected area is from Commercial Boulevard south to Orange Drive and from the western boundary of the city of Weston east to University Drive


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), May 14, 2000


Published Sunday, May 14, 2000, in the Miami Herald

100,000 without water in western Broward Workers puncture pipe in Sunrise WANDA J. DeMARZO wdemarzo@herald.com

More than 100,000 Broward residents awakened Saturday morning to a dry surprise: no water in the taps and no drinking water until Monday.

All of Sunrise and Weston and a large chunk of Davie will spend the rest of the weekend boiling water because a cable contractor pierced a water main Friday in Sunrise, draining the city's water supply.

Water began trickling back through the pipes after the hole was plugged about 7 a.m. Saturday, but water pressure remained low.

''It seems almost as if a hurricane went through,'' said Jim Battaglia, a Sunrise utilities employee. ''Stores are seeing a run on water and ice, we're fielding thousands of phone calls and businesses are having to shut down.''

An arena football game at National Car Rental Center in Sunrise on Saturday night was postponed because the lack of water pressure took out the arena's toilets and air conditioning. The Florida Bobcats will play the Carolina Cobras at 2 p.m. today. To ensure a crowd, the Bobcats announced Saturday that moms attending with a paid companion will see the game for free.

At Sawgrass Mills, shoppers looking for hot bargains found them. The main portion of the outlet mall remained open for the hardy few who could tolerate the lack of air conditioning.

''I'm from the Virgin Islands,'' said Veronica Dixon of Lauderhill. ''So heat doesn't bother me.''

Other shoppers gave up. ''It's absolutely miserable,'' said Nivia Viera of Miami-Dade, who cut short her shopping trip with her 18-year- old daughter Jessica.

Several of the mall's upscale restaurants closed, including Wolfgang Puck. Manager John Naughton said the restaurant would lose more than $30,000 worth of business.

The Cheesecake Factory closed for most of Saturday but reopened its doors in time for the dinner crowd.

Those restaurants and many others said they would be ready for the large crowds expected today for Mother's Day.

''We're having our employees come in two hours earlier than usual to start washing food with bottled water,'' said Bruce Field, chef of Rolling Hills Country Club in Davie. ''This water problem is going to slow us down a little, but it's Mother's Day. What else can we do?''

Fast-food restaurants also tallied their losses Saturday.

''We couldn't open until after 10 a.m. and missed our breakfast sales,'' said Claudia Palmer, manager of McDonald's at 1092 W. Oakland Park Blvd. in Sunrise. ''Saturday mornings are our busiest time. We lost a lot of money.''

Efforts to restore water pressure were hampered by hundreds of homeowners who insisted on pursuing normal weekend activities.

''People need to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars for the next couple of days so we can get the pressure back up to where we need to,'' Battaglia said.

Close to a million gallons of water gushed out of a water pipe after a subcontractor for cable company MediaOne gouged a hole in it at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the 3700 block of Pine Island Road. The water network operated by the city of Sunrise -- which provides water to all of Sunrise and Weston and parts of Davie -- lost all water pressure.

Supervisors at Sunrise's utilities department would not say why the water system was not shut down quickly. They referred calls to Assistant Utilities Director Don Bayler, who could not be reached for comment Saturday.

''It surprises me that a water district would not have shut-off systems to narrow down a major break,'' said Weston homeowner Jo Taylor. ''It's primitive.''

The boil-water order was issued for Broward County west of University Drive from Orange Drive north to Commercial Boulevard. Plantation, which has its own water system, was not affected.

BAD BREAK: Nearly a million gallons of water were lost after a cable subcontractor broke a water main, causing Sunrise's water network to lose all water pressure. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- The boil-water notice will be in effect until tests determine the water is safe to drink. Residents can use tap water for showering and laundering.

When water pressure drops, untreated water from the aquifer can seep into the water supply, a utilities supervisor said. There is also the risk that bacteria will contaminate the stagnant water.

The low water pressure put fire departments on alert.

''We called other cities last night to let them know we might need their help if we had a bad fire,'' Sunrise Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Richard Spielberg said Saturday. ''If there was a large fire near another city's borders we would tap into their hydrants. Residents aren't in any danger.''

At supermarkets, there was a run on bottled water. Store managers called warehouses for extra deliveries Saturday afternoon.

''I bought 12 gallons,'' said Roberta Ruggiero of Sunrise. ''I can't believe that I woke this morning and there was no water.''

Others pulled out jugs stashed away for another emergency.

''We're using hurricane water right now,'' Taylor said.

The episode was nearly the final straw for Taylor and other homeowners in the Bay Pointe subdivision. They lost electricity for three hours Wednesday, and their cable TV service suffered sporadic problems during the week.

''What next?'' Taylor asked.

Herald staff writers Elena Cabral, Martin Merzer and Bob Emanuel contributed to this story.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), May 14, 2000.

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