Health department Director Kathy Crown-Weber said, “This is our role in it, when it happens. We notify the community because they have certain things they have to do to stay safe.”
Businesses and institutions such as schools are alerted about the advisory and provided the correct information to operate safely until the advisory is lifted.
“Water Emergency Operational Procedures for Retail Food Establishments” is the title of a health department publication that outlines safety requirements such as only using purchased ice and canned or bottled drinks in restaurants until the advisory is lifted.
Environmental Health Director Tony White said his office makes the protocols available, and that it could have been much worse.
“I got a call yesterday saying this was likely, but it’s usually not expected and is a result of a (water line) break,” White said.
Not only does a break in a line necessitate personnel to scramble to make calls, but a loss of water pressure might mean added complications such as toilets that can’t flush.
“That’s a whole different ballgame,” White said.
Mercer County school Superintendent Dennis Davis said the school knew this was coming so it has been easy to address any issues.
“The water fountains are covered, and there is bottled water for the students to drink,” he said. “No steaming is being done in the cafeteria, just baking, and because we knew in advance, the cafeteria was able to store any water than they might need, and we bought ice.”
“Because we knew about it and have done this before, we just kind of roll with it,” Davis said.
Bottoms said the advisory was issued because of work being done as part of the water treatment plant expansion project. An interconnect from an old clear well to the new one will be installed. There is always a possibility of contamination of the drinking water when an area in an otherwise sealed system is breeched.
The advisory will remain in effect until the absence of any contamination is confirmed by laboratory analysis once the repair is completed.