Seacoast Utility Authority lifts boil-water advisory Saturday morning

Bacteriological survey shows water safe to drink

UPDATE:  Days after not knowing whether water in North Palm Beach County was safe to drink, Seacoast Utility Authority said lab results show no harmful contaminants.

A spokesperson with Seacoast Utility Authority said 40 samples gathered from a variety of areas were tested and indicated no traces of bacteria.

As a result, Seacoast said it was lifting the "boil water" advisory for its customers.

CEO Rim Bishop said he was thankful the water was found to be safe and is happy it came just in time for St. Patrick's Day, a time usually very busy for restaurants in the area.

Bishop said his crews would be ordering another round of testing just to be on the safe side.

Reported by Jeff Skrzypek/NewsChannel 5

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EARLIER STORY:

Officials at the Seacoast Utility Authority - which serves customers in Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Park, North Palm Beach and parts of Juno Beach - expect to lift a boil water advisory by Saturday morning.

But nothing is guaranteed, as they wait for lab tests to confirm that there is no chloroform in the water supply.

With St. Patrick's weekend on tap, restaurants are hoping the advisory will be lifted before they have to serve big crowds.

Restaurants are machines.  They've had to reprogram the way they do everything.

"It's a natural reaction to go to the sink and wash your vegetables," said Russell Beverstein, the owner of Russell's Blue Water Grill. "You can't do that now."

They served bottled water to the table and used boiled water to prepare food in the kitchen.

Those kinds of logistical challenges - if they last another day - would make serving a St. Patrick's Day crowd an even bigger challenge than normal.

"Big weekend for us," said Beverstein. "We have a special entertainer in from Nashville. A lot of people are down on Spring Break."

It's been more than a day since a construction crew upgrading water mains near the Seacoast treatment facility caused a valve to pop. 

By state mandate, they had to pull samples to make sure chloroform didn't back into the system.

"I underscore the word precautionary. There's no evidence that there's actually a threat of biological contamination at all," said Seacoast CEO Rim Bishop said "We're just screening the system to make absolutely certain."

Seacoast encouraged customers to bring to a rolling boil any water they planned to drink or use for cooking.

While showering and bathing is OK, Christine Chambers of Palm Beach Gardens followed the instructions of throwing out ice made before the advisory.

"It's just disrupting," she said. "You're afraid you're going to get sick."

At Russell's Blue Water Grill, no surcharges are being added to restaurant tabs.

Will they spend tomorrow's holiday working extra hard to give St. Patrick's Day customers clean water?

"It's a lot cheaper to make ice than it is to buy ice. We were across the street buying water this morning and bottled sodas. It does affect the bottom line a little bit," said Beverstein.

Saturday morning, Seacoast officials will examine the samples.

If they're negative, the boil water advisory will be rescinded, and alerts will be posted on our website and theirs.

If they're positive for contamination, the alert will go on at least another day.

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