More than a half-million customers are under a boil water notice in Tampa, and it comes at one of the worst possible times for many local bars and restaurants, right before the start of the weekend.
The problem started at Tampa's main water plant in Sulphur Springs, which is near 30th Street by the Hillsborough River Dam.
It started early Friday morning, with a squirrel or some other small critter, chewed their way through underground power line. This was one of two lines serving the plant.
But then around 1:30 that afternoon, there was trouble with part of the city's equipment, which caused a second TECO line to short-out and fail, leaving the plant powerless, and the City of Tampa without water.
"This is a very unusual situation," said Brad Baird with the City of Tampa Water Department.
TECO called it "a perfect storm."
"Some people may have lost water altogether, some people may have experienced just a lower pressure, but in one way or another, every customer was affected," said Baird. "Boil the water if you're going to drink it."
The power and water pressure were out for about an hour.
"It's back on for everybody now and at regular operating pressure," said Baird.
From MacDill Air Force Base, all the way up to New Tampa and the Pasco line, over to Town and Country, and down U.S. Highway 301, past the Palm River area is affected. Plus, there are 3,400 people who pay a county bill, but get their water from the city.
"And those two areas are in the Clair Mel area and also by King High School in the Sligh and 56th Street area," said Michelle Van Dyke with Hillsborough County Public Utilities.
"We will be testing, taking samples throughout our system to make sure the water is safe to drink and use and then once that is determined, the pre-cautionary boil water notice will be lifted," said Baird.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
A boil-water alert means customers should bring water meant for consumption to a rolling boil for a full minute before letting it cool.
If you cannot boil the water, FOX 13's Dr. Joette Giovinco reports, you can put eight drops of bleach into a gallon of tap water, shake it, then let it stand for 30 minutes. Water purification tablets may also be used.
In addition to residences, bars and restaurants are also affected. The Green Iguana in Ybor City told FOX 13 they were ordering 500 lbs. of ice and buying bottled tonic water and sodas.
WHOM DOES IT AFFECT?
The city of Tampa Water Department service area includes the entire city, but also extends outside the city boundaries. So water users who don't live in the city may still be impacted.
"If you receive a city of Tampa water bill, then you are affected," the Water Department official explained.
There are also about 3,400 Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department customers who are impacted by the advisory. Customers in the area immediately south of the Hillsborough River and west of 56th Street, as well as those in the Clair Mel area, are reminded to follow the precautionary boil water notice for a minimum of the next 48 hours.
These customers pay their water bills to Hillsborough County, but the water is provided by the City of Tampa.
For a map of the city of Tampa water service area, download this PDF: http://www.tampagov.net/dept_Water/files/Forms_Publications/Service_Area.pdf
For tips on water purification, download this PDF:
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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