Water Problem Impacts Schools, Businesses, Customers in Montco - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Water Problem Impacts Schools, Businesses, Customers in Montco



    Residents, businesses and schools in parts of Montgomery County continue to deal with a water emergency. NBC10's Nefertiti Jaquez has the details. (Published Thursday, May 22, 2014)

    A boil water advisory remains in effect for parts of Montgomery County and it's now starting to impact businesses and schools in addition to customers.

    The advisory was issued for Pennsylvania American Water customers in parts of Montgomery County Tuesday night hours after over 30,000 residents were placed under a water restriction.

    The advisory went into effect for the following communities: 

    • East Norriton Township
    • West Norriton Township
    • Lower Providence Township
    • Whitpain Township
    • Worcester Township
    • Whitemarsh Township

    On Wednesday, officials announced that the advisory will not be lifted until Friday at the earliest as they continue to test the water. Members of the Health Department also spoke with 431 businesses in the areas under the advisory. After inspections were performed, some of those businesses were shut down, though officials did not reveal which ones or how many.

    Methacton High School, Arcola Elementary School, Skyview Elementary School and Eagleview Elementary School also had early dismissals on Wednesday due to the lack of water or ability to give lunches to students.

    According to officials, the recent heavy rain created high turbidity(cloudiness) in the raw water supply which limited the production capacity at the Norristown Water Treatment Plant. A spokesperson for Pennsylvania American Water says the issue began with a deluge that saturated the area on May 1, causing the Schuylkill River to crest in the Norristown area, reaching its 4th highest level in history.

    Officials say mud and debris caused serious issues with the treatment process while customer demand made it difficult for the system to keep up.

    According to experts, a loss of positive water pressure indicates that there could be contamination.

    "A loss of positive water pressure is a signal of the existence of conditions that could allow contamination to enter the distribution system through backflow by back pressure or back-siphonage," said a spokesperson for Pa. American Water in a released statement. "As a result, there is an increased chance that the water might contain disease-causing organisms."

    Pa. American Water customers in the impacted areas are advised to not drink the water without boiling it first. Officials also say customers should bring all water to a rolling boil, let it boil for one minute and then cool before using. They can also use bottled water as an alternative.

    Finally, they say customers should use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and food preparation until further notice.

    Earlier on Tuesday, officials with Pennsylvania American Water issued a mandatory conservation notice for customers in the following communities:

    • Norristown
    • Bridgeport
    • East Norriton Township
    • West Norriton Township
    • Upper Merion Township
    • Lower Providence Township
    • Plymouth Township
    • Whitpain Township
    • Worcester Township
    • Perkiomen Township

    Customers were advised to limit their water use to essential purposes only until the issue is resolved. Customers were also told they could experience low water pressure and/or discolored water.

    Danielle Herrera of Norristown told NBC10 that she didn’t find out about the water issue until late Tuesday afternoon, after she had already done several loads of laundry.

    “I think that’s a load of crap,” Herrera said. “We’ve had a lot of rain like that before and it’s never happened.”

    Officials are providing updates through the Pennsylvania American Water website and will notify customers once the advisory is lifted.

    Customers can also call the Pennsylvania American Water’s customer service center at 1-800-565-7292 for more details.

    Pennsylvania American Water officials also say alternate water sources for customers are available at water tankers stationed at the following locations:

    • 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