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West Palm Beach water advisory lifted; all customers can resume drinking tap water

Samples taken June 1-2 showed toxin levels below health advisory limits
'City of West Palm Beach Water Treatment Plant Established 1894' sign
Posted at 11:18 AM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 19:03:09-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County announced Friday morning that a water advisory for the city of West Palm Beach has been lifted.

MORE: Utility engineer questions delaying action after toxins found in water supply

The advisory was put in place May 28 after water test results last month showed the presence of the toxin cylindrospermosin.

Test results taken May 19 showed the algae-related toxin was above the threshold for elderly, sick, very young, and other vulnerable people, prompting the week-long advisory.

Health Department Spokesman Alex Shaw said Friday that water samples taken June 1-2 showed that toxin levels were below the health advisory limits for cylindrospermosin.

Health officials determined that the city's water system can resume operations, and all customers can use tap water for drinking.

MORE: Water toxicology specialist questions delaying water advisory

Experts said West Palm Beach water customers should flush their water systems for at least five to ten minutes before resuming water use by turning on hot water taps and then cold water taps. Customers are also advised to change their water filters, including the one in their refrigerator and ice maker. All ice should be discarded.

West Palm Beach officials announce water advisory lifted

Mayor Keith James said during a Friday afternoon news conference that the city will use this situation as a learning experience and work to do better if future concerns arise.

"We will get outside experts in to advise us on best practices and how we can move forward," James said. "I'm also giving serious consideration to having an expert to help my administration to look at itself."

Public Utilities Director Dr. Poonam Kalkat said the city will be increasing its routine sampling for the cyanotoxin levels in both the raw water and finished water.

"We are doing daily sampling until we get a couple of days of samples where we've already gotten the lift advisory based on two consecutive days. We are looking at one or two more days where we get clear samples so we can go to weekly sampling from there," Kalkat said.

The city, based on raw water and finished water monitoring results, will also use powdered activated carbon and post-chlorine use to reduce levels in the tap water.

West Palm Beach water customers received a text notifying them that the water advisory was lifted June 4, 2021
West Palm Beach water customers received a text just before 11:30 a.m. on June 4, 2021, notifying them that the advisory was lifted.

James said they will use outside experts to help examine the city's water system in an effort to avoid future advisories.

Assistant Fire Chief Brent Bloomfield said they purchased and distributed 335,000 bottles of water to the public since Saturday at a cost of $63,000.

The West Palm Beach Water Treatment Plant has an interactive map regarding service in their area.

The lifting of the advisory comes after a Thursday afternoon news conference where James said they were waiting for approval from regulatory agencies.