Monday, May 3, 2010

The Great Aqueduct Blowout of 2010...

has been a real pain.

I don’t know if it’s made the national news, but a HUGE aqueduct that supplies water to about 2 million people in the greater Boston area had a major blowout and had to be shut down. Water is still flowing, but it’s coming directly from various local reservoirs (read ponds), rather than from the MWRA processing plants.

It’s amazing to me that our taps never went dry, quite a feat actually, but the water we’re getting now is untreated and may or may not be contaminated by goose droppings, beaver poop and the like, which means an “Emergency Boil Order” is in effect. Any tap water used for preparing food, washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc. needs to be boiled first. Without boiling, the tap water is only good for bathing, flushing and fire prevention. Bathing, by the way, does not include washing your hands. Health officials are recommending that we use boiled water to wash our hands, or that we use a hand sanitizer if boiled water isn’t available. Of course to top things off we’re having a bit of a heat wave right now. Nothing like boiling up a bunch of water on a muggy 90º day. Nice.

The situation has been toughest on the local merchants though. Some restaurants have stayed open using disposable tableware, bottled beverages and boiling the water they use to wash the food, but a lot have just shut down. There’s also been a run on bottled water. The stores can’t keep it on the shelf, and fist fights have ensued.

We’re lucky on that front. There’s a spring water bottling plant right down the street from us, and they have coin operated taps accessible 24-7 that pump out a gallon for a quarter. We’ve got a bubblah in the kitchen, and once every 2 weeks or so I load up the truck with empty 5 gallon bottles and stock up. It just so happens that I did a water run last Sunday, so we’re golden. We were already using the water for cooking and drinking; now we also have a pitcher and bowl in each bathroom for brushing and hand/face washing. It’s kinda like camping, although the novelty is starting to wear thin and it looks like we may have to “camp” like this for a couple more days.

On the plus side, we’ve gone to all paper and plastic so there’s very little to clean up after meals, and the town next to us gets its water from a different source, so all the restaurants are open and busy, especially the Dunkin’s. Plus we’ve had a temporary respite from the endless chore of laundry. All in all, it could be a lot worse. The aqueduct was repaired in record time, and now we just have to wait another 24 to 48 hours for tests to come back clean.

When we do get the OK to begin usage again, our home lines will all need to be flushed. Proper procedures are outlined here on the Mass DEP site. Your water heater will need to be completely flushed, which may take a while depending on its size, so be sure to follow the procedures the DEP outlines. You don’t want to be getting sick after the fact, that just wouldn’t do.

No comments: