Boil water advisory lifted in Allegheny, Washington counties

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UPDATE (11/8/17): The boil water advisory for 100,000 Pennsylvania American Water customers in southern Allegheny County and Washington County has been lifted.


Amid a boil water advisory affecting residents in Allegheny and Washington counties, Pennsylvania American Water announced Wednesday morning that the first water samples show no sign of contamination.

RELATED STORY: Bethel Park pizza shop closed for violating boil water advisory

The water company said the advisory will remain in effect until the results of a second round of tests are available later Wednesday morning.

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RELATED STORY: Schools closed Wednesday because of boil advisory

About 100,000 people in 50 communities in parts of the South Hills and Washington County have had to boil their water since Monday. It takes two clean water tests taken 24 hours apart before the advisory can be lifted.

“It's tough because it's just me and my wife and she's handicapped. We don't even know if we want to get a bath or a shower,” said Jerry Obiecunas, a Bethel Park resident.

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The boil water advisory was put in place after high turbidity levels were found, making the water appear cloudy and raising the chance of disease causing organisms contaminating the water.

A spokeswoman for Pennsylvania American Water said the cause has not been determined, but an extensive investigation will be done once the water is safe.

Some communities like Upper St. Clair told residents it was because of high amounts of rain, but the utility wouldn't confirm that.

PHOTOS: Boil advisory issued for more than 50 communities


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ALLEGHENY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The Allegheny County Health Department emphasized Tuesday that the advisory is just a precautionary measure and that no pathogens have been found, however it's important to heed the warnings.

Dr. Kristen Mertz wanted to put people at ease since the boil water advisory is so widespread and affects so many people.

“There's not really that much to worry about, this is really a precautionary boil water advisory,” Mertz said.

She said if you did accidentally drink the water, it's unlikely you will get sick; however, it could take a day up to three weeks to see symptoms.

"The symptoms to look for would be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, that kind of thing,” Mertz said.

The Allegheny County Health Department said cloudiness in the water could mean many different things, but the issue stems from a filtration problem at a Penn American Water plant.

STORES OUT OF WATER

Channel 11 News was at the water buffalo in North Strabane for about two hours Tuesday, and no one used it. 

Most people, it seems, have been heading to the stores to buy water by the bottle. But some places have sold out.

Workers have been replacing pallets of water at the Giant Eagle in McMurray.

Anthony McClelland bought two cases -- hoping it will be enough.

“I’m just wondering how long it’s going to go on,” McClelland said.

Store workers said they normally go through one or two pallets a day -- but expected to sell between 40 and 50 pallets on Tuesday.

Two drug stores nearby were both were sold out.

The North Strabane Giant Eagle location has been getting new shipments every two or three hours to keep up with the water demand.

SCHOOLS, BUSINESSES AND HOMES

The boil water advisory is impacting a lot of routines at homes, but the Peters Township School District is trying to cause the least amount of disruption to the school year and did not cancel classes.

School water fountains have been covered with bags. Bottled water is on hand for students and tap water isn't being used for food preparation. There is also extra hand sanitizer.

Many restaurants like Harry’s Pizza in McMurray are staying open by switching to paper plates and bottled water.

But for others, the boil water advisory has them closed down.

Joanne Kaufman was like many who stopped at the Eat'n Park in Monongahela with her family, only to find it closed.

“I thought it was a slow day, but it's closed,” Kaufman said.


 

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