12,000 under boil water order

Friday, April 4, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com A broken water main flowed out to a nearby creek below street level in the 1200 block of South West End Boulevard Friday afternoon.
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com A broken water main flowed out to a nearby creek below street level in the 1200 block of South West End Boulevard Friday afternoon.

A boil water order is being issued for a third of Cape Girardeau residents after

a major water main break Friday. The order is in effect through 5 p.m. Sunday.

An estimated 12,000 people are in the area affected by the break.

According to Kevin Priester, manager for the city's water service, the

12-inch main, which runs north and south, was broken after a mudslide from

the side of the creek running between South West End Boulevard and Shawnee Sports Complex. Because water was pouring into the creek, it took nearly two hours to find the break, he said.

The boil water order applies to anyone living south of Bertling Road; south east of Cape Rock Drive; east of Kingshighway; to the city's southern border, Priester said. Businesses along Kingshighway are not affected, he said.

"We're erring the side of caution," he said. "But this is major."

Southeast Missouri Hospital, which is included in the boil-water zone,

issued a statement at 2:15 p.m. saying elective surgeries from 11:30 a.m.

and beyond were canceled as a result of low water pressure.

The surgeries will be rescheduled, but patient care services were not

disrupted, according to the written statement e-mailed to the Southeast

Missourian.

"The hospital has drinking water available from emergency tanks and water

bottles," the statement said. "Water pressure was low or non-existent

throughout the afternoon."

As of 1:30 p.m. Cape Girardeau County Health Department workers were phoning restaurants within that area to check water pressure.

"If they have low water pressure or no water pressure, we are advising them

to cease food preparation. They can only utilize prepackaged water and food

at this point," said Jane Wernsman, R.N., the department's assistant

director.

Soda machines cannot be used; ice machines should be turned off, she said.

The health department is providing guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing

equipment after a water main break.

At Bella Italia Restaurante, manager Susan Smith had just gotten the news.

"We're going to boil a ton of water for this evening," she said. She said

the ice making machines would be turned off. Instead of using machines

connected to the water system for making tea, workers will use a large

independent pot.

Wernsman said it's the biggest alert of its kind from the county health

department since she started working there in 1989.

It's the second water main break in two days. A 12-inch main on North Main

Street, near the Red Star access, broke yesterday. Priester said the older

iron pipes are less flexible and more likely to rupture when the ground

shifts. He said it is not clear what caused yesterday's break, but it may

have been the result of soil collapsing from being oversaturated by

rainwater. He said Friday's water main break was caused by the mudslide from the creek bank.

The city of Cape Girardeau has created this map of the area under a boil-water advisory.

Look for updates at www.semissourian.com.

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