Boil Water Advisory in South St. Louis! Water Main Break Also Forces School Closures

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click to enlarge Water main break. Video below. - via KTVI
via KTVI
Water main break. Video below.

Update: St. Louis Hills residents are now officially free to drink water without boiling it! Most of them, anyway. The city just announced that a precautionary boil order -- due to a water main break last night -- has been lifted. Our original coverage from today is below.

City officials say that they've tested the water and found no signs of bacteria.

There are, however, 21 homes along Jamieson Avenue that still do not have water. The city hopes to restore those by 8 p.m. tonight, but residents there are advised to continue boiling their water as a precaution until more testing is done tomorrow. Water Division crews will hang placards on the doors of those homes. The site of the break, Jamieson at Westway, will be under construction through Friday.

Original post, 9:30 a.m.: Public service announcement, folks: St. Louis has issued a boil water advisory as a precaution due to low pressure from a broken water main.

The break happened at Jamieson Avenue and Westway Road about 6:30 p.m. last night, and the problem has since forced several schools to shut down, including all three Word of Life Lutheran School campuses, St. Gabriel and Gateway Science Academy.

While water has been restored to the affected south-city neighborhood, details below, the water pressure in the area is "below acceptable city levels," according to an official alert sent out last night. The city's water division isn't aware of any contamination but has issued the boil advisory as a precaution.

The area under the precautionary boil water advisory is:

South of Arsenal
West of Hampton
North of Eichelberger
East of River Des Peres

The advisory is in place until further notice; crews are expected to have test results back tomorrow afternoon and the city should have an update then.

It appears the advisory has forced at least one restaurant to close its doors temporarily:

Here's KTVI (Channel 2) footage from the water main break, followed by the full alert from the city, which includes a helpful FAQ.

Update, 11:30 a.m.: The city just released new details about the advisory, which officials say will remain in effect as repairs continue in the afternoon in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood. Around 25 homes near the break at Jamieson and Westway currently don't have water. Here's the full update:

The precautionary boil water advisory is still in effect for the St. Louis Hills neighborhood.

About 25 homes near the water main break at Jamieson and Westway are currently without water.

Forestry is in the process of removing a large oak tree so that Water crews can successfully repair the main. The main is expected to be repaired by late this afternoon and water restored to all homes.

Others living near the main break are likely experiencing low water pressure, which is one reason why the precautionary boil water advisory remains in effect. We are also waiting on water sample tests to come back late this afternoon to determine whether any bacteria got into the water lines; however, the Water Division saw no evidence of such.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Issued for South City Neighborhood SAINT LOUIS--The City Water Division has issued a precautionary boil water advisory for one neighborhood due to low water pressure caused by a broken water main.

The area under precautionary boil water advisory is:

South of Arsenal West of Hampton North of Eichelberger East of River Des Peres

Even though water now has been restored to the neighborhood, the water pressure in the affected area was below acceptable city levels. The water division knows of no source of contamination to the water supply to the subdivision and has issued the boil water advisory solely as a precaution.

The boil water advisory is in affect until further notice. The water division will take water samples to analyze before determining whether to life the boil water advisory. Test results will be in tomorrow afternoon.

What is a boil water advisory? The water division may issue a boil water advisory when there is concern a problem with drinking water may exist, but it has not yet been confirmed. This may be done, for example, after very low water pressure or a main break event and while waiting for the results from tests for confirmation in water samples collected for bacteriological analysis. The analysis results should be available the next day.

What is a boil water order? A boil water order is issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to public water systems when a threat to the public health exists, or is likely to exist, that boiling the water will remedy. The public water system is then required to notify consumers as soon as possible, and by the most effective methods, that need to boil their drinking water.

What precautions should I take if under a boil water advisory or order? The following steps need to be taken: 1. Boil water vigorously for three minutes prior to use. Use only water that has been boiled for drinking, diluting fruit juices, all other food preparation and brushing teeth. Note: Let water cool sufficiently before drinking (approximately 110 degrees F). 2. Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic ice maker. Remake ice cubes with water that has been boiled. 3. Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.

Do I need to boil bath water? Water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing or using backyard pools so water is not ingested. Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult their physicians.

What are the causes of boil water orders? The presence of fecal coliform or E. coli bacteria is a common cause for issuing a boil water order. Other instances include low water pressure and inadequate levels of chlorine at systems that require chlorination. High turbidity levels, cross connections, inadequate treatment techniques and the presence of other microbial pathogens such as Giardia or Cryptosporidium are potential causes for boil water orders that occur less frequently.

What are the symptoms of water-borne illness? Disease symptoms may include diarrhea, cramps, nausea and possible jaundice and associated headaches and fatigue. These symptoms, however, are not just associated with disease-causing organisms in drinking water; they also may be caused by a number of factors other than your drinking water.

Are some groups of people more seriously affected? Persons with reduced immune function, infants under six months in age, and the elderly are more seriously impacted by water-borne disease. Immune function may be reduced due to chemotherapy for treatment, organ transplants or diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Persons in these groups need to contact their personal physicians for additional information.

Should I buy bottled water just to be on the safe side? Buying bottled water may be a feasible alternative to boiling drinking water when under a boil water order. Bottled water operations are routinely inspected, and samples are analyzed by state health agencies. This offers a safe source of water for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth.

Where can I get more information? To learn more about your drinking water, contact the department at 800-361-4827 or the EPA's Safe Drinking Water hotline at 800-426-4791 if you are served by a public water system.

If you get your drinking water from a private well, contact the Missouri Department of Health at 800-392-0272.

For More Information:

City of St. Louis - Water Division Customer Service Section 1640 S. Kingshighway, St. Louis, Mo. 63110 314-771-2255

Missouri Department of Natural Resources Water Protection Program - Public Drinking Water Branch P.O. Box 176 Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176 800-361-4827 or 573-751-5331 office 573-526-1146 fax

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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