It is now safe for all New Tampa residents to drink and cook with their tap water without having to boil it first. On September 22, New Tampa residents, specifically those who are Tampa Water Department (TWD) customers living north of I-75, were put under a precautionary “boil water advisory” (photo) due to a construction incident involving a main water pipe.
According to TWD, thousands of customers who live east of I-275, west of Morris Bridge Rd, north of Dona Michelle Dr. and south of County Line Rd, which is essentially all of New Tampa minus Tampa Palms, was affected by the boil alert, which was lifted in a little more than 24 hours.
The boil alert went into effect after TWD workers, who were flushing a main water pipe at 1 p.m. near Dona Michelle Dr., shut off two of three main water valves, which should have left an additional water valve open. Typically, just one main water valve left open would still have enough pressure to supply water to local homes without any interruption. However, the TWD workers didn’t know that the third valve was previously closed from an unrelated construction project.
The closing of all three main valves caused a cease in water pressure which lasted only a few minutes for the affected areas. However, according to TWD officials, a drop in water pressure like the one on September 22 can cause contaminants to seep into pipes which could allow disease-carrying pathogens into the water supply.
“As a precaution, we issued the ‘boil water alert’ just after the incident,” said TWD spokesperson Elias Franco. “On Friday, afternoon (around 3 p.m.) the water was tested and the bacterium levels were safe.”
Residents were notified about the boil alert from the Alert Tampa system, a service provided by the City of Tampa which notifies residents by phone or email about threatening trends in their neighborhoods. In addition, five flashing road signs were placed along roadways in New Tampa. The flashing sign on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. just east of I-75 still had the warning posted until September 27, four days after the boil alert had been lifted, but officials say the alert actually was lifted one day after it was first issued.
“There was a small bit of confusion for some customers,” said Franco about the road sign.
Local homeowner associations sent out emails and the city’s website also informed the public when the water was deemed safe to drink after the bacteria tests came back negative.