FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Water service has been restored to much of Fort Lauderdale, according to Mayor Dean Trantalis, just hours after declaring a local state of emergency.
“Water is now flowing and at a little than lower pressure and should be back to near normal by sometime this evening,” Trantalis said.
By late Thursday, more than a day after the pipe was damaged, Trantalis said workers had fashioned a fix and patched the pipe.
“We’re now building a concrete bunker around the broken pipe that will seal the break,” he said.
“It will protect the patch, ensure the pipe and prevent the break from becoming any worse.”
But Trantalis said a boil water order remains in place.
“However, even if you have water, continue to boil it before consuming. We continue to work on a long-term resolution. It is very possible we will again lose water service as we make continued long-term repairs.”
The plan is to put in a permanent repair by the end of the weekend and reroute water to the city’s main water treatment plant. The mayor said a subcontractor of FPL damaged the water main on Thursday afternoon while repairing electric lines. City leaders said they’ve cited the company — Florida Communications Concepts Inc out of Palm Beach County.
A city police report said, “The company did have an 811 locate ticket that was valid, but no City issued permits for the work. During the drilling/boring process, the company punctured a city water main, causing thousands of gallons of water to spew onto the airplane ramps.”
Trantalis said the city plans to seek compensation from the company for its residents and businesses.
“It was clearly something that they should not have done. It was clearly something that were going to seek retribution for,” he said. “This was not just a minor incident. This impacted many hundreds of thousands of people and customers and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Trantalis declared a local state of emergency Thursday morning after a water main break affected thousands of people and businesses that get their water from the city.
Trantalis said Florida Communications Concepts, a subcontractor of FPL, damaged a 42” water line near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport during an overnight repair of line.
The company has been cited by the city and is required to appear on enforcement action.
According to the notice to appear, “the company was inside the fence line of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport conducting underground boring for a new electrical line. The company did have an 811 locate ticket that was valid, but no City issued permits for the work. During the drilling/boring process, the company punctured a city water main, causing thousands of gallons of water to spew onto the airplane ramps.”
CBS 4 News spoke briefly Thursday evening with Timothy Hicks, listed in state records as an officer with Florida Communications Concepts Inc. He told CBS 4 News that he couldn’t talk about this situation tonight but he said he plans to release a statement sometime on Friday.
FPL responded in a statement saying, “We are aware of the situation in Fort Lauderdale where a third-party contractor struck a water main near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport while working on a Florida Power & Light Company construction project. We are investigating the incident and working with the city to respond.”
Earlier in the day, the mayor’s statement said, “With a short-term fix, water service has been restored to much of the City. However, even if you have water, continue to boil it before consuming. We continue to work on a long-term resolution. It is very possible we will again lose water service as we make continued long-term repairs.”
“We are aware of the situation in Fort Lauderdale where a third-party contractor struck a water main near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport while working on a Florida Power & Light Company construction project. We are investigating the incident and working with the city to respond,” FPL said in a statement.
The water main supplies water from the city’s wellfields into the Fiveash water treatment plant. In order to repair the line, the water supply from the wellfields has been shut off. This means that no water is currently feeding the Fiveash water plant.
The Fiveash plant is the city’s biggest, it processes approximately 40 million gallons of water a day.
“If you have water service we ask that everyone please limit use. Please turn off all irrigation system and only use water when absolutely necessary until this situation is resolved,” Trantalis asked residents earlier Thursday.
The mayor issued a statement which outlined a three-pronged attack to get the situation resolved.
A replacement pipe was located in Miami-Dade County. Crews traveled to Kendall to pick up the pipe and materials and are back on-site working to replace the pipe.
The city handed out bottled water to those who need it at three locations:
Beach Community Center
3351 NE 33rd Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Mills Pond Park
2201 NW 9th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
950 SW 27th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Trantalis spoke with Governor Ron DeSantis Thursday morning who offered assistance, and the state is sending says 70,000 gallons of bottled water, according to the mayor.
Trantalis warned that residents and businesses in Fort Lauderdale and neighboring cities should be prepared to be without water for 24 hours to 36 hours. Areas impacted include Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Oakland Park, Village of Sea Ranch Lakes, Wilton Manors, sections of Davie and Tamarac, and the Port Everglades Authority.
A boil water notice remains in effect. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
The water outage affects everything from residences, restaurants, hospitals to hotels and high rises – approximately 220,000 customers.
WATCH: FORT LAUDERDALE NEWS CONFERENCE ON WATER MAIN BREAK AND OUTAGE
The city sent out emergency alerts via texts to let businesses and residents know what was going on.
The lack of running clean water for consumption, toilets, certain air conditions, and fire suppression systems have led to closures.
Many hotels evacuated their guests as a safety measure because fire sprinkler systems may not have proper water pressure.
The Galleria Mall closed at 10 a.m. because its air conditioning system requires water, according to general manager Mark Trouba.
The Broward Courthouse closed at noon. The Governmental Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale also closed.
Broward Health Medical Center remains open and is monitoring the situation.
“We are aware of the Fort Lauderdale water outage. At this time, all hospitals and urgent care centers remain open. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available,” said Broward Health Medical Center said in a statement.
For more information call the City of Fort Lauderdale 24-Hour Neighbor Service Center at (954) 828-8000.