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Some Rostraver customers will have to boil water through weekend

| Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, 12:18 p.m.

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Bob and Marsha Ferrara: a half-day power outrage after last week's storm and now a pipe break near their Rostraver home that left them without water Friday.

“We might as well have just gone up to our cabin, since we don't have water there, either,” Bob Ferrara said as he loaded jugs of drinking water into the back of his vehicle to tide the family over for the weekend.

The Ferraras were among about 65 Rostraver residents and businesses who lost water service Thursday night and will have to boil their water through the weekend as Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County crews replace a broken 16-inch water main in the township.

The authority said the boil-water advisory includes Concord Lane, Finley Road, Gardenview Lane, Indof Lane, West McClain Road, Municipal Drive, the 4300 block of Route 51, Sylvan Drive, Timms Lane and Transmission Lane.

The authority issued a series of robocalls Thursday night and again Friday morning notifying customers about the service disruption and the need to boil water temporarily.

“The authority is required to do what they did. What the authority did was sufficient,” said Lauren Fraley, spokeswoman for the state's Department of Environmental Protection office in Pittsburgh.

That notification required the authority to notify customers by phone about the service break as well as potential health risks related to the consumption of water once service is restored.

The boil-water advisory was required to ensure the water in the repaired service lines is safe, officials said.

Work crews learned late Thursday afternoon about the water main break near the Route 51 intersection of Interstate 70. Authority manager Michael Kukura said that up to 100 customers in Rostraver initially were notified about the service disruption and were issued an advisory. The number of affected customers was reduced Friday after officials took a second look at the area serviced by the damaged line.

An initial repair failed and prompted authority workers to return Friday morning make a second attempt to correct the problem.

Officials said the break caused water pressure to drop and created a circumstance that could lead to contamination of the water.

“The break was isolated, and the water line itself was not in an area of risk. There is no indication of any contamination,” said Jack Ashton, authority assistant manager.

State environmental regulations required the authority to issue the boil-water advisory, which will remain in place after water service is restored until at least Sunday, Kukura said.

Water was distributed throughout Friday at the Rostraver Township building, where few complaints were registered, township Commissioner Gary Litvany said.

Restaurants and some businesses in the affected area along Route 51 closed Friday. The Belle Vernon School District canceled classes because of the water outage.

The Comfort Inn on Route 51 distributed bottled water to guests, general manager Jessica Schultz said.

“The guests are very understanding, and we offered to buy them water if needed,” Schultz said.

In addition to making the robocalls, the authority posted information on its website and issued an update via social media.

“I believed that was sufficient. This was an isolated neighborhood,” Kukura said.

In 2013 the state fined the authority $5,000 for failing to properly notify customers about potential dangers resulting from contamination related to a filter failure at one of the utility's treatment plants that prompted about half of its 120,000 customers to boil water for several days.

While robocalls were used in the rollout of the 2013 advisory, the authority's website crashed, no social media updates were provided and local media was not briefed about the problem until the following day.

Officials said there were no issues with the authority website Friday and a news release was issued to media outlets by late morning.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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