Editor's Note: The boil water notice was lifted as of 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, for all areas in the OUA district.
OKEECHOBEE—Okeechobee Utility Authority customers were placed on a system-wide boil water notice Sunday, June 3, due to a break in a water transmission line.
According to OUA Executive Director John Hayford, a waterline on S.W. 16th Avenue near the entrance to Ousley Estates split sometime Sunday morning. Water was flowing freely across S.W. 16th Avenue into the canal on the west side of the roadway.
"The water plant kept trying to pump water through a broken line," he said. As a result, some customers experienced low water pressure and others had no water pressure.
The problem was reported to OUA at 9:52 a.m. Within an hour, an OUA crew was on the scene digging up and replacing the section of broken 24-inch pipe.
"We don't yet know the cause of the break," he said. "It was a relatively new pipleline." He said the pipeline was buried three to four feet deep.
Mr. Hayford said Department of Environmental Protection regulations required a system wide boil water alert be issued due to the break in the line and the fact that some areas of the system suffered low water pressure, which may have allowed bacteria to enter the system.
According to DEP guidelines, under these conditions all water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth or washing dishes should be boiled. A rolling boil of one minute is sufficient. As an alternative, bottled water may be used.
The boil water notice will remain in effect until the system passes health and safety tests two consecutive days. The water was tested Monday and will be tested again on Tuesday. Mr. Hayford explained that it takes 24 hours to get the test results. If the system passes both tests, the boil water notice could be lifted on Wednesday.
He said the entire OUA system is affected, but some customers have their own additional disinfection systems which will make it unnecessary for them to boil water. Those who do not have additional water disinfection systems are advised to boil water or use bottled water for drinking until the boil water notice is lifted. This could affect some businesses and present problems with machines such as ice makers that are directly connected to OUA water.
OUA used an automatic telephone system and radio announcements to alert customers to the problem.