Pennsylvania American Water has issued a Q&A for Montgomery County residents impacted by the precautionary boil water advisory issued Tuesday.
The company experienced a loss in positive water pressure on Tuesday due to treatment issues that limited the production capacity of its Norristown Water Treatment Plant.
The company reported that recent heavy rains created high turbidity (cloudiness) in the raw water supply and affected the plant’s capacity.
It stated a loss of positive water pressure is a signal of conditions that could allow contamination to enter the distribution system through backflow by back pressure or back-siphonage.
The boil water advisory applies to the company’s customers in the following communities:
• East Norriton Township
• West Norriton Township
• Lower Providence Township
• Whitpain Township
• Worcester Township
• Whitemarsh Township
A mandatory conservation notice remains in effect for all of the company’s Norristown area customers to reduce their water consumption.
Here are the company's questions and answers:
Q. Why did some communities receive an alert about the conservation notice but are not included in the boil water advisory?
A. The reason every area is not impacted by the precautionary boil water advisory is because some parts of the distribution (pipeline) system did not lose positive water pressure. These areas, even if they experienced low pressure, still maintained water service, so the boil advisory is not necessary. But we asked all local customers to conserve water until the treatment plant returns to normal production capacity.
Q. When will the boil water advisory be lifted?
A. Now that normal water pressure is returning to the distribution (pipeline) system, we can begin the process to lift the advisory. According to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) guidelines, we need to take water samples to test for bacteria in different parts of the system.
The first samples were collected Wednesday, and then another set of samples will be taken in the next 24 hours.
We need two consecutive days of "clean" test results before DEP will allow us to lift the advisory. If results come back showing no bacteria after the second set of samples, we could lift the advisory for all customers on Friday. (The process takes 24 hours for sample results to come back from the lab.)
Q. Can we still use the water if we’re included in the boil advisory?
A. It is OK to shower and bathe, as long as you don’t ingest the water. It’s also fine to use the water for laundry, but your dishwasher should NOT be used because the water temperature doesn’t reach the boiling point. Dishes should be hand-washed with water that has been boiled first.
Q. What if you have an open wound and need to shower/bathe with the water?
A. You should avoid allowing the water to come in contact with the wound.
Q. Is Pennsylvania American Water providing alternate water sources for customers affected by the boil advisory?
A. Water tankers are stationed at the following locations and customers are asked to supply their own containers:
• Jeffersonville Fire Company at School Lane and Egypt Road
• Lower Providence Fire Company at Ridge Pike and East Mount Kirk Avenue
• East Norriton Fire Company on Swede Road
• East Norriton Fire Station at Germantown Pike and Whitehall Road
• Worcester Township on Reiner Road off Spring Hill Road
Tankers will remain onsite until the boil advisory if lifted. If customers arrive at a location and the tanker isn’t there, please be patient because we took the tank to be refilled and will return it to the site as soon as possible.
Q. What is the reason for the conservation notice?
A. Recent heavy rains created high turbidity (cloudiness) in the raw water supply and affected the plant’s capacity to meet typical customer demand. We experienced treatment issues that limited the production capacity of our Norristown Water Treatment Plant. Our plant operators, engineers and water quality personnel continue to work on resolving the treatment issues.
Q. What should customers do to conserve water?