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Questions surround 10-day lag after toxins first discovered in West Palm Beach drinking water

'I just felt deceived,' Palm Beach mayor says
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 01, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Many of the 120,000 customers of West Palm Beach Utilities who drink its treated water still believe they should have been told about tests that showed toxins in the drinking water when the problem was first discovered.

The water from the city of West Palm Beach Utilities also serves people in South Palm Beach and the town of Palm Beach.

That town's mayor said she and everyone else should have been told about the problem much sooner.

"I was angry and very upset," said Mayor Danielle Moore. "I just felt deceived."

Moore said some of the most vulnerable people in her town may have been drinking water for 10 days after a test showed toxic levels of a blue-green algae byproduct in the drinking water before they were finally warned not to drink it.

Palm Beach Mayor Danielle Moore
Palm Beach Mayor Danielle Moore says she wishes she would have been told about the water problems sooner.

"The average age is 68 years old here," Moore said. "We can't take a chance that our water supply is not perfect."

Moore has a lot of questions about the process of why it took so long to notify the public.

Contact 5 wanted to know if the timeline presented by the mayor this weekend matched the reports of when the problem was first discovered.

WPTV filed a series of public records requests at downtown city hall.

Contact 5 also wanted to know what the state department of health told the city on whether the public should have been told about high levels of toxins revealed in the May 19 test.

Map for the water supply in West Palm Beach
Map provided from the city of West Palm Beach shows that the city's drinking water comes from the Grassy Waters Preserve.

"I have concerns for my residents," Moore added. "I can't tell them things that we're not informed of."

The Palm Beach County Emergency Management and Moore both said the city told them of the problem Friday afternoon.

That is about five hours before the public was told some vulnerable people, like the sick, the very young and the elderly, should not drink the water.

"It can't happen again. It just can't," Moore said.

The mayor said a few people in Palm Beach told her they had gastrointestinal illnesses last week, but adds, at this time, it can't be traced to the drinking water.

The Florida Department of Health said, "we’re looking into it, and we will get back to you."