Some Westmoreland residents advised to boil drinking water
By Stacey Federoff
Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
About 50,000 customers of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County have been issued an alert to boil water before drinking it.
Households in 33 communities may be affected by a “deficiency of the filtration barrier” at the George R. Sweeney Treatment Plant in Bell Township, said Manager Chris Kerr.
The warning was issued as a precautionary measure at 7 p.m. Thursday.
It was triggered after a filter plant evaluation Wednesday by the state Department of Environmental Protection, he said.
All affected customers in the Beaver Run Reservoir system will be alerted via an automated phone message within 12 hours of the warning, Kerr said.
The authority asks all affected customers to boil the water for at least one minute, then let it cool before using, or use bottled water.
Any water used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation should be boiled, according to the release.
The utility increased the chlorine dosage and is flushing the system, which could take 2-3 days, Kerr said.
“It may take a longer or shorter period of time depending on how fast we can flush the system,” he said.
Kerr did not specify what caused the deficiency, but said boiling could prevent possible health concerns such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, upset stomach or fever.
Some customers in higher elevations may also experience fluctuating water pressure while the authority flushes the lines, he said.
Kerr said the problem ocurred at one of seven filtration units at the plant within a 96-hour period.
The treatment plant was built in 1997 and is rated for a capacity of 24 million gallons per day.
Although the utility did not identify Hempfield as one of the affected communities, Hempfield Emergency Management sent out an advisory for its residents Thursday night advising them to boil water.
A portion of Hempfield is serviced by the treatment plant in Bell Township, according to the township agency.
MAWC serves about 120,000 water customers, including about 111,000 residential customers, according to a March 2012 annual report.
Other customers in the system are serviced by the Youghiogheny River or Furnace Run Reservoir.
It wasn't clear early Friday morning how many school districts serving the affected area would go to the extreme of closing schools.
Penn-Trafford School District posted on its website Thursday night that students would be able to bring their own bottled water to school Friday if needed.
The water fountains would be shut off and the lunch menu may be altered, but classes would continue as scheduled during the water advisory, according to the announcement.
Elsewhere, Kiski Area, Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg Area districts all announced via their websites that schools will be closed. Apollo-Ridge also reported that football and senior night activities will go on as scheduled.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greensburg (north of Cabin Hill Drive)
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