Lewes Board of Public Works says tests show city water is safe to drink and it is no longer necessary to boil water before using it.
The entire City of Lewes was without water early Jan. 12 as a water main break overnight forced the BPW to shut off water.
While water was restored later in the morning, residents and food service establishments in Lewes were warned to use an alternative source of water. After testing, BPW now reports the water is safe.
Before testing, BPW officials warned that before using water, it should be brought to a rolling boil, boiled for one minute, and let it cool - or use bottled water - for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice.
In a notice posted on the BPW website, officials also warned inadequately treated water may contain disease-causing organisms. These organisms include bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.
The notice also stated such symptoms are not caused only by organisms in drinking water, but also by other factors. People who experience symptoms that persist should consider seeking medical advice, the city advises.
“People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk. General guidelines for reducing the risk of infection are available from EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800 426-4791, the notice stated.
In a statement, Beebe Healthcare said all clinical services are operational.
“A small number of elective surgical cases were delayed or rescheduled. Dialysis services are now on line, and no emergency dialysis services presented during the short duration of the water outage. Beebe Healthcare has protocols and procedures in place to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff during events such as this,” the statement said.
Restaurants remain open
Despite the break and water warning, restaurants in Lewes remain open for business.
Samantha Negron, head chef at The Buttery, said most of the restaurant’s water runs off a filtration system, but any water coming from a tap must be boiled. She said the town is running tests for bacteria and the restaurant was told they would get further updates in the morning.
Staff members at Gilligan’s said while they have water, they are not using water for ice or coffee.
Andrew Greeley, innkeeper of the Dogfish Inn, said the water break hasn’t given them too much trouble. He said guests are being given bottled water for the time being, and town officials have been in to test the water.
“For right now, we’ll have to stick to 60 Minute or SeaQuench,” he said.
The water main break occurred at the intersection of Savannah Road, Gills Neck Road and Front Street. Crews have been working in that area for several weeks to upgrade sewer infrastructure, but there is no indication if the water main break is related to the work. It will, however, prevent paving near the canal bridge in Lewes. Officials said that work will be delayed until the weather clears, but the bridge is expected to remain closed at least until Monday, Jan. 15.
Crews fixed the break and then attempted to turn the water back on, but another break occurred and the water was again turned off, said Mayor Ted Becker.
The second break required crews to dig into the ground near the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal drawbridge delaying reopening of the bridge, which has been closed since Jan. 2 for the infrastructure work in the Savannah, Front, Gills Neck intersection. It was slated to reopen Saturday, Jan. 13, but, Becker said, he now expects the bridge to reopen early next week.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new information.