State, city officials say Friday’s boil advisory was timely

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- There are questions swirling about the way City Utilities handled a problem with Fort Wayne’s water following Friday’s boil water advisory. Some are concerned the advisory should have been issued sooner.

A power surge Friday disrupted operations at the city’s water filtration plant and created a 60 second loss of pressure that prompted the advisory. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management was notified of the pressure drop around 8:20 a.m. However, the city did not issue a boil water advisory until 3:15 p.m. Friday.

The advisory was said to affect more than 30,000 customers. City spokesman John Perlich said the city’s 311 line took 429 on Friday and 359 calls on Saturday. Some customers questioned why it took so long for the city to announce the boil advisory. However, a spokesman at IDEM said the city complied with state regulations. According to Barry Sneed the city is required to respond to a water problem within 24 hours.

Sneed issued the following statement:

“It is standard practice to issue a Boil Order Advisory when pressure drops below 20 psi. Ft. Wayne notified us when they found out of the pressure drop around 8:20 a.m. Their response was as quick as possible. They had to make sure what the affected area was. They sent out the boil order advisory through several different venues, including text, email, radio and TV.”

Frank Suarez of City Utilities said the boil water advisory was only issued out of an abundance of caution. He said the city did not believe the water was unsafe to drink.

“Based on the data, we had on Friday along with our experience and knowledge of the system, we saw no signs that the water was comprised because of the power surge. Further testing, through the weekend, proved that to be the case,” said Suarez.

When asked why the city waited several hours before issuing the boil advisory, Suarez said it was better “to be accurate than to push inaccurate information out before analyzing the zones.”