Boil alert lifted; city says water uncontaminated - FOX 13 News

Boil alert lifted; city says water uncontaminated

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The city of Tampa's so-called water crisis is over. 

At approximately 3:30 a.m. Sunday, test results came back and the news was good -- very good.

"All 25 samples came back negative for bacteria," said Brad Baird, a director with Tampa Water. "So it means the water is safe to drink."

A sigh of relief went out among the 500,000 or so Tampa residents who were inconvenienced by Friday's turn of events that led to the precautionary boil water advisory.

Sunday's early morning news also means restaurants Maggiano's and PF Changs were welcoming customers back. The eateries were forced to close when news of a possible contamination of the city's water supply came to light.

Carne Chophouse in Ybor City managed to stay open during the temporary 'crisis.' They took a hit financially due to extra costs of bringing in bottled water and ice.

"It was pretty tough. Every other restaurant had the same thing going on," said assistant manager Tony Elwood.

What's especially hard to grasp is that this weekend's 'water-gate' was triggered by a medium-sized rodent.

"It started early Friday morning," Bard explained. "Apparently a squirrel chewed into the first [electrical] feed to David Tippen Plant."

That set off a chain of events that ultimately caused the city's water treatment facility to lose power. It was restored relatively quickly but the unexpected shutdown forced officials to issue a precautionary boil water advisory. 

That announcement led to a rush on bottled water. Retail outlets in Tampa struggled to keep the shelves stocked as residents worried about what was potentially coming out of their pipes.

They worried for nothing.

"If they did consume the water during the period we did the testing and found there's nothing to worry about," Baird added.

Even though the water supply lost power, no contaminants seeped in. Baird says the water department is taking steps to avoid something like this from happening again.

"We're following our protocols and TECO has made the repairs to both [electrical] feeds. Some special provisions were made to ensure a squirrel will not be able to get in there."

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