12,000 under boil water order
Friday, April 4, 2008
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
"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
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
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.