'Boil water advisory' lifted in Atlantic City after test shows improved quality

ATLANTIC CITY - A three-day warning here had some residents boiling their drinking water, while others cleared store shelves of bottled water.

The advisory was issued Friday evening, after a sample from the local water system exceeded the allowed level for turbidity, or cloudiness. That was a potential sign of disease-causing organisms in the water, officials said.

The warning was lifted Sunday afternoon when the state Department of Environmental Protection returned results from a subsequent test conducted the previous morning.

"Tests showed there is no contamination in the water, and water consumption may resume as normal," the city said in a statement.

Take precautions with Atlantic City's water

However, consumers were advised to run faucets for three to five minutes to flush their service lines.

The statement also recommended clearing and emptying automatic ice makers.

"Anything with a softener or cartridge filter hould be drained and refilled as well," it said.

It said hot water heaters should be drained and refilled "only if it's below 113 degrees."

Mayor Marty Small Sr. thanked residents and businesses for their patience, and noted employees of the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority "have been working around the clock."

Atlantic City's response to water warning

But Small rejected criticism of his administration, saying the MUA is not part of city government.

The mayor also noted he directed the MUA on Saturday morning to obtain bottled water for city residents. The bottles were distributed from two fire stations and were delivered to senior facilities.

Small said finding the water bottles "was a multi-county operation."

"Why? Because the casinos bought every water bottle that they could find. The residents bought every water bottle. The stores were out," Small said.

He said the MUA was able to secure more than 12,000 bottles of water.

"In under two hours, the water was gone," the mayor added.

The problematic test results on Friday showed a turbidity level of 2.5 nephelometric turbidity units, more than twice the standard of one unit, the city said.

The resulting advisory did not affect neighboring towns.

But it prompted AtlantiCare health system to implement emergency management protocols at its Atlantic City facilities, including a medical center and emergency department.

"We have shifted to bottled water, packaged ice, and other water disruption protocols to meet the needs of patients and staff," spokesperson Emily Paul said Sunday morning.

She said AtlantiCare's operations "have not been significantly impacted," but noted the health system was "closely monitoring the situation."

"Emergency Department volume has been within normal thresholds," Paul added.

At least one hotel, the Tropicana, distributed bottled water to its guests.

"We are advising all of our guests that they should not drink and/or use tap water to brush their teeth," it said in a notice to patrons.

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"Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation," the city's warning said.

It said boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in water.

Small noted city firefighters opened hydrants around 1:30 a.m. Saturday to flush the water system.

The water-quality tests have a turnaround time of 18 hours, the city said.

Jim Walsh is a senior reporter for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal. Email: Jwalsh@cpsj.com.

This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Test of water sample showed potential for 'disease-causing organisms'