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A city without water: Fort Lauderdale works to restore water service for 220,000 people  1 Month ago

Source:   USA Today  

The city of Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas spent much of Thursday without access to running water after a construction crew damaged a major water main, triggering a water emergency on a hot summer day.

But Mayor Dean Trantalis is "fairly confident" that the problem will soon be fixed, writing in a press statement that city staff expect to implement a repair plan in the coming hours.

That repair plan includes building a concrete bunker around the broken part of the pipe that triggered the initial problem. The bunker was expected to be completed by 10 p.m. local time, providing the city time to work on a more permanent repair, according to the statement.

Even if the repairs are successful, Trantalis said residents should continue to boil water before using it for the next 48 hours, or use bottled water. 

"With the anticipated resolution to the water break, the city will focus on investigating how this accident occurred," Trantalis wrote. "We will provide updates as available."

The city, which estimated 220,000 customers were affected, began shutting down service to the Fort Lauderdale and surrounding towns at around 7 a.m.

Trantalis, who declared a state of emergency, blamed the disruption on a private contractor that was repairing lines for Florida Power and Light when it struck the water main on the grounds of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

The city, which has 23 miles of Atlantic resort beachfront, tapped water reserves to keep water flowing in the short run. But authorities said it would run out later Thursday. A boil-water order also was issued.

"It is imperative that folks in the affected areas boil their water prior to consuming it," Trantalis said. "Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice."

Palm Beach County to the north dispatched several tanker trucks to the Broward County city of 180,000 as it faced temperatures as high as 89 degrees.

Many businesses were shutting down, as did the county courthouse. Hotels were being evacuated and guests relocated.

The 42-inch water main supplies raw water from the city’s well fields to a treatment plant. It was damaged by a contractor doing construction work near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, the city said.

The water supply was shut off and treatment plant shut down to repair the line, officials said.

Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue said it had been in contact with neighboring fire departments and has tanker trucks on standby in case of fire.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was offering Trantalis and Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen "any assistance they need to restore running water to Fort Lauderdale and surrounding cities."

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