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Fort Lauderdale without water after main break; state of emergency declared

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WFLA/NBC) – A state of emergency was declared after a water main break cut water to nearly a quarter million people in South Florida.

The main was damaged in a construction incident near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The 42-inch main supplies water to the Fiveash Water Treatment Plant.

Residents have been notified to be prepared to be without water for 24 to 36 hours.

Several municipalities are impacted and approximately 200,000 customers don’t have water.

“At 11:30 a.m. today the Fiveash Water Treatment Plant has stopped providing service. In addition to Fort Lauderdale, the affected cities as follows: Lauderdale by the Sea, Oakland Park, Port Everglades Authority, Village of Sea Ranch Lakes, Wilton Manors and sections of Davie and Tamarac. A little over 200,000 customers will be affected,” said Mayor Dean Trantalis. “Please turn off all irrigation systems and only use water when absolutely necessary until this situation is resolved.”

A subcontractor working for Florida Power and Light struck the main and caused it to collapse but was not doing work for the city at the time.

Three locations have been opened across Broward County for distribution of bottled water.

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR TRANTALIS REGARDING WATER SUPPLY

Yesterday, a contractor broke a 42-inch city pipe that supplies water to our water treatment plant. As a result, we have lost water supply to the city and the other cities that receive water from us.

City crews are working as fast as possible to restore service. If everything goes well, we could have water available by this evening. In the meantime, we have launched emergency procedures and have set up locations to offer bottled water to any residents in need.

What happened is that Florida Communication Concepts, a subcontractor repairing electric lines for FPL struck and damaged the main in the vicinity of 2525 NW 55 Court on the grounds of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. They have been cited and have been issued a notice to appear in an enforcement action.

The water main supplies raw water from the City’s wellfields, which are located west of the airport, to the Fiveash water treatment plant.
It’s important to note that the subcontractor was not doing work for the City, nor was the work related to any city or airport project.

Crews responded immediately to assess the situation and worked through the night attempting to shut down the valves that control the water flow in order to activate a bypass line.

While the work was taking place, the damaged pipe collapsed necessitating that the water flow from the wells be shut off.

We are working on three solutions simultaneously:

First, crews continue to work on shutting down large valves (each of which takes approximately 700 turns to shut off) in an attempt to activate the bypass line and get the flow of water going back into the Fiveash plant.

Second, 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.

Third, we have a third crew flying in from out of state that will attempt to put a line stop on the damaged line that will also allow a bypass to be activated.

As of 11:30 am, the Fiveash water treatment plant has stopped providing service. In addition to Fort Lauderdale, the following cities and areas are expected to be impacted:

-Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
-Oakland Park
-Port Everglades Authority
-Village of Sea Ranch Lakes
-Wilton Manors
-Sections of Davie and Tamarac

The number of impacted customers total more than 220,000.

A map of affected areas is available on our webpage at www.fortlauderdale.gov

We have issued a boil water notice in accordance with state and federal regulatory requirements. It is imperative that folks in the affected areas boil their water prior to consuming it. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice.

If you still have water service, we urge everyone to limit use. Please turn off all irrigation systems and only use water when absolutely necessary.

I have signed a proclamation declaring a local state of emergency to expedite obtaining any necessary supplies, equipment or materials to address this as quickly and efficiently as possible.
We have opened three locations for bottled water distribution:

• Beach Community Center
3351 NE 33rd Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

• Mills Pond Park
2201 NW 9th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

• Riverland Park
950 SW 27PthP Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

We have conducted a rapid assessment of critical facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals. They are reporting no issues at this time, but we are on standby to take action as necessary.

Fire Rescue has mutual aid in place for fire suppression.

Palm Beach County has supplied a tanker truck which will be located at Station 53 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Miami-Dade has supplied a tanker truck that will be located at Station 13 on Sunrise Boulevard on Fort Lauderdale Beach and Broward County has supplied a tanker that will located at Station 46 at Mills Pond Park.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department has brought in extra personal to handle calls and ensure the safety and protection of our community during this uncertain time.

I would like to thank Gov. DeSantis, Emergency Director Jared Moskowitz and lawmakers, including Rep. LaMarca, for their offers of state assistance. The state has sent bottled water for us to distribute. Broward Mayor Mark Bogen and the county staff are also assisting.

Please continue to call our 24-hour Neighbor Call Center at 954-828-8000 with any concerns.

We will provide updates as available.

Sincerely,
Dean J. Trantalis
Mayor

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