Mass. governor orders review of Boston-area water supply system after boil order is lifted

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mass. governor orders review of water system

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick promised an investigation into the water main break that had prompted him to issue a boil water order that ended Tuesday morning for about 2 million people in the Boston area.

“If there is fault to be found, we will find it and we will hold those responsible accountable,” he said hours after lifting the boil order.

More than 800 tests showed the water in Boston and surrounding communities is now safe for drinking, authorities said. Residents are being urged to run their taps for a few minutes before drinking the water, and to run their dishwashers empty for one cycle before using them again.

“If there was a sink in here, I’d take a glass from the tap and drink it myself,” he said during a news conference at Massachusetts Water Resources Authority headquarters. He also pledged a thorough review of the entire system, and to accelerate construction on a redundant water delivery system to help prevent another interruption of service.

Patrick had issued the order Saturday after a coupling on the 10-foot-wide pipe in suburban Weston failed. Crews raced to repair the pipe, and authorities had been waiting for the results of water quality tests before lifting the order.

What officials had feared would take weeks to resolve was fixed within three days, mainly because it was the coupling that broke, and not the pipe itself. Portions of the coupling washed into the Charles River and need to be recovered as part of the investigation, Patrick said.

Residents were told to use bottled water or boil tap water for a minute before using it to drink, cook or brush their teeth.

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed an emergency disaster declaration authorizing federal agencies to coordinate relief efforts with local authorities.

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo, whose hometown of Winthrop was under the boil water order, said he’s anxious to make sure that ratepayers aren’t left holding the repair bill.

Residents did their best to cope with the inconvenience, stocking up on bottled water and paper plates to avoid having to boil water to wash dishes.

At Fenway Park, where the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 17-8 Monday night, water fountains were turned off and signs posted around the ballpark reminded fans of the order. The Red Sox brought in ice from Rhode Island for the clubhouse.

Concession stands were selling bottled soft drinks instead of fountain mixes, and beer service wasn’t affected.

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