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#201311 - 05/03/10 12:41 PM Incident in MA over the weekend
oldsoldier Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 742
Loc: MA

Well, we had an unplanned event this weekend (didnt affect me, I live in the central part of the state). Boston's main water supply is a huge reservoir located in central MA called the Quabbin Reservoir. This past weekend, a 14' diameter pipe ruptured, and was spewing 8 million gallons of drinking water per hour. So, Boston and 35 other local communities had water restrictions this weekend. Boil water orders, etc. They had emergency water pumped in, that was suitable for washing, but was advised against drinking (boil and/or treat). I saw news stories of people fighting over cases of water-one place was even charging $10/BOTTLE-a 32 oz BOTTLE of water for $10...the media was also saying that drinking the untreated water can cause dysentary.
Now, here are the FACTS that the media failed to mention:
Water was fine in towns unaffected by this issue. A simple 20 minute drive and people could have fresh water.
The "untreated" water actually is treated-it is simply treated with chlorine bleach-which would kill most all the bad bugs that could be in the water. So, it IS, in fact, potable
Dysentary is NOT something that you would get here-blatant misinformation there. Worst case, you would end up with giardia-by no means fun, but easily treatable.

My observations (this didnt affect me, as my water supply is local to my community): people are woefully unprepared for this-even with all the alleged prep commercials advising people to keep potable water on hand, just in case.
Media causes undue panic. There are people who are already critical of the way the media responded. Giardia isnt well known to people outside of outdoorsmen & women. Dysentary, likely most have heard of. The backup water supply isnt from a sewer-they are from local reservoirs. So, dysentary is a non threat. Especially as they treat it with chlorine.
People came to the aid of one another-despite the few incidents of overcharging, a few fights, etc-communities & the national guard ensured that people had clean water-they were buying bottled water from the central & western part of the state & trucking it in to Boston.
HUGE kudos go out the the MWRA (the folks that control the water supply). They had a major crisis on their hands. They projected a couple of weeks until everything was back to normal. They fixed the broken coupling by Sunday, and expect to be back to normal by Thursday. Monumental task, done quickly & professionally.
Also, kudos out to folks that spent thier own money & time to bring water to the affected communities. These are the kind of people we need more of. Willing to reach out to fellow human beings in time of need-with no expectations of receiprocation. It was nice to see people doing that.

Lessons to take away-these types of issues can crop up anytime-not just during inclement weather. Have clean drinking water available ALL the time.
Have a backup plan-friends or family that are far enough away that they may not be affected by something like this. Subtly change their way of thinking about preparedness, to have things available to sustain life for a week, at least, in the event something like this should happen. A safe place to evacuate to is nice insurance.
Have an evacuation plan-even if its only for a couple of days. Remember-everyone will be looking to egress as well. It may be worth waiting even a day before having to go somewhere else. Even if its a short distance-15 miles out of Boston, and everyrthing was normal-people will be flocking out of the affected area in search of necessities. Towns unaffected by this were also out of water-an hour's drive away, there was plenty. Take the drive, go to communities well outside the affected area-avoid towns right outside.
Lastly-YOU CAN BOIL WATER. The biggest gripe from people is that they didnt want to be bothered with boiling water-it was too time consuming. And, it wasnt "guaranteed" to kill the nasties. Both claims are false. We ALL know that boiling water kills parasites, and, its as simple as turning on a stove, and putting water on the burner. Thats it. Oh, there was a service message from our governor advising people NOT to drink boiling water-to wait until it cools down. Honestly, a message like that kinda scares me-first, that there are people out there that dont equate boiling water to being hot. Second, and the scarier of the two-that the local government is assuming people arent bright enough NOT to drink boiling water. But, I digress.
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#201312 - 05/03/10 12:54 PM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: oldsoldier]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078
Quote:
Thats it. Oh, there was a service message from our governor advising people NOT to drink boiling water-to wait until it cools down.


Just in case there was a civil class action against the authorities from all those folks with scolded mouths after reports were coming in from the Accident and Emergency departments at local hospitals. laugh laugh

Perhaps the Governer should have advised placing dried tea leaves in the boiling water then cooling the water down slightly with some cow juice. Yep that white milky liquid is actually cow juice folks. sick


Quote:
Honestly, a message like that kinda scares me-first, that there are people out there that dont equate boiling water to being hot. Second, and the scarier of the two-that the local government is assuming people arent bright enough NOT to drink boiling water.


Actually, this can be a problem, as it has been known that folks who have boiled water at extreme altitudes (i.e. in countries such as Nepal and Bhutan etc) all their lives have been injured by scolding boiling water at sea level altitudes, but I don't think this case applies.


Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (05/03/10 06:19 PM)

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#201317 - 05/03/10 02:33 PM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
NobodySpecial Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 197
Quote:
Thats it. Oh, there was a service message from our governor advising people NOT to drink boiling water-to wait until it cools down.

Remember - Do not iron clothes while wearing!

The 'boil all water' announcements are normally followed by a big spike in burns and house fires. I wonder if in the balance it is actually worth it?
If this is treated municipal water but there is a chance some groundwater/dirt may have got in from a break - is the risk of contracting something really nasty worth the risk of burns/fires?



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#201318 - 05/03/10 02:35 PM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: oldsoldier]
Jesselp Offline
What's Next?
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/19/07
Posts: 263
Loc: New York
I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Newton, MA, this weekend, so we were affected by this incident.

My aunt and uncle were in the car when they heard about it on the radio, and immediately pulled into a shopping center to purchase six gallons of drinking water. As we finished each gallon jug of water, it was refilled with water that had been boiled on the stove.

Honestly, it was a non-issue for us. We were able to wash and use toilets using the "non-potable" supply, and we had an un-limited supply of drinking water by boiling and replacing the water we had drunk.

The biggest surprise for me was that I would not have known about it if my uncle had not been listening to the radio. I had spent the day in Boston doing tourist stuff with my wife and kids, and had no idea anything was going on.

Much bigger survival trial (for us) was that the air-conditioning in my minivan died while in Boston, so we had to drive home to New York on Sunday in 90-degree heat with no air-conditioning. The kids really enjoyed the stop for ice-cream at Friendly's midway through the trip. . .
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#201321 - 05/03/10 04:10 PM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: Jesselp]
oldsoldier Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 742
Loc: MA
Jesselp, you may have a point-survival is different things to different people-no AC on a 4 hour trip, with kids-I can see the priorities there!!!

I am sort of surprised that you werent aware-there has been tickers on all the local stations advising about it. I dont know what was said on the radio, but the newsfolks all had talked about it. I think it was a non issue for most people-but, as usual, good news isnt news at all, so they showed people standing in long lines to get water, talked about the arguments & fistfights (Quite happily, I only heard of 3 physical altercations), and the huge sinkhole that was created.
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#201328 - 05/03/10 06:17 PM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: oldsoldier]
Jesselp Offline
What's Next?
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/19/07
Posts: 263
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: oldsoldier
I am sort of surprised that you werent aware-there has been tickers on all the local stations advising about it. I dont know what was said on the radio, but the newsfolks all had talked about it. I think it was a non issue for most people-but, as usual, good news isnt news at all, so they showed people standing in long lines to get water, talked about the arguments & fistfights (Quite happily, I only heard of 3 physical altercations), and the huge sinkhole that was created.


Yeah, I was kind of surprised too, except that I was out walking around Boston (Comonwealth Ave near the the Public Gardens has to be one of the prettiest residential neighborhoods in the country on a nice spring day!), riding the Swan Boats with the kids, and generally being a tourist. Never looked at a TV all day. Odd thing was that I did listen to the radio on the drive through MIT, Harvard Square, and Tufts (wanted to show my 4-year old where he should go to college! smile ) but never heard a thing about it.

I was about to pour myself a glass of water from the tap when my uncle walked in with the jugs of water and told me not to. I'm pretty sure I would have survived - I've drank from some pretty questionable sources over the years. . .
_________________________
http://spligovia.blogspot.com
A blog about adventure
in and around New York

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#201330 - 05/03/10 07:07 PM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: Jesselp]
ToddG Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 03/07/01
Posts: 51
Loc: Boston, MA
I live in eastern MA and we were hit by this....but it really has not been a big issue for us. We have bottled water on hand that we drink any way, poland spring cooler (love it), and have just been boiling for the pets and brushing of teeth!
No kids so that makes it easier.

and for the record...we let the water cool before giving it to the pets...
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#201333 - 05/03/10 08:25 PM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: ToddG]
KG2V Offline

Veteran

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 1371
Loc: Queens, New York City
From what I gathe ther basically had to use some pipes/tap into a source that was not normally used - Looking at it, a nice water filter would have taken care of the issue
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You are what you do when it counts - The Masso
Homepage: http://www.thegallos.com
Blog: http://kg2v.blogspot.com

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#201347 - 05/04/10 02:00 AM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: KG2V]
James_Van_Artsdalen Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/13/07
Posts: 449
Loc: Texas
A filter with a 100,000 gallon rating wouldn't last long...

Tapping into alternative sources may have been more about maintaining pressure in the system than about finding a water supply at 100% spec. Pressure is critical to keeping contaminants out.

(you can't build a perfectly sealed municipal water system in the real world so you rely on pressure to ensure a leak is always *outwards*)

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#201351 - 05/04/10 05:41 AM Re: Incident in MA over the weekend [Re: James_Van_Artsdalen]
KG2V Offline

Veteran

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 1371
Loc: Queens, New York City
100K filter may not last LONG, but really, if all you are filtering is your drinking/cooking water, it's going to last "long enough" and is a heck of a lot easier than boiling
_________________________
73 de KG2V
You are what you do when it counts - The Masso
Homepage: http://www.thegallos.com
Blog: http://kg2v.blogspot.com

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