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Businesses and homes are still adhering to a boil water order that was issued by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department amidst the nation's power outages last week. Power failure across multiple states including New York, Ohio and Michigan shut down many water treatment plants forcing residents to boil their water and, in some cases, purchase bottled water when the municipal water was completely shut off.
The Detroit area, which boasts the world's third largest water system, water treatment plants are playing catchup. The power outage caused lower pressure and lower amounts of water to pass in the pipes, which allowed oxygen and bacteria to enter the water supplies.
Water treatment plants have added extra chlorine to the water to eliminate the bacteria.
"We're running tests and we need two consecutive tests to come back negative for bacteria," said Jamaine Dickens, a spokesman for Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick.
Detroit's backup power system for its water plants did, in fact, turn on. However, pressure was not high enough. The backup system was meant for emergency use such as fires, reported the Detroit Free Press.Officials reported that improved backup systems would be extremely costly, perhaps eliminate it from the options for future outages.
Health officials advised restaurants on how to properly prepare food during the water problems. Other businesses adivsed their employees to bring their own bottled water with them to work.
Cleveland's power is back on and the boil water advisory was lifted. Residents in Ontario were asked to conserve power this week by using fans instead of air conditioners and businesses should keep signage turn off, reported The New York Times.
According to the Detroit Free Press, some restaurant owners have lost between $20,000 and $35,000 due to spoiled food from the power outage and lost business. Other businesses went out in search of bottled water to use and others must follow the boil water advisory in order to continue foodservice as usual. In Macomb County, some businesses were forced to close until plant water can be back to normal.
Many boil water advisories may remain in effect until Wednesday.
CDC Advises Consumers
The Center for Disease Control offers these suggestions during a power outage.
During a power outage, water purification systems may not be functioning fully. Use bottled water for eating or drinking. If you don’t have bottled water on hand, and are not sure that your tap water is safe, follow these directions to purify tap water.
* Boil the water vigorously (water should be bubbling and rolling) for one to 3 minutes.
* If you can’t boil water, add 8 drops of newly purchased liquid household bleach per gallon of water, stir it well, and then let the water stand for 30 minutes before you use it.
* You also can use water-purifying tablets from your local pharmacy.
Vigorous boiling for one minute will kill any disease-causing microorganisms present in water. The flat taste of boiled water can be improved by pouring it back and forth from one container to another (called aeration), by allowing it to stand for a few hours, or by adding a small pinch of salt for each quart of water boiled.