UPDATE 12/17/20: The City of Fort Myers has lifted the boil water notice.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — People in east Fort Myers are having to take an extra step when it comes to getting clean water. They have now been under a boil water notice for three days, after a pipe broke near I-75 on Monday
It’s hard to miss the digital marquee that says “Boil Water Advisory” near Treeline Avenue. Before David Poisson noticed the sign Monday morning, he noticed he had no running water at all. Then he checked his email.
“The association then sent out a notice saying while you now have water back, it’s not safe to drink without boiling it first,” he said.
Pelican Preserve passed along the City of Fort Myers boil water notice, and followed up.
“They’ve been sending out notices for the past two days at least twice a day,” said Poisson.
We see them all the time, but how bad is it really if you don’t boil your water when the city advises you to? Assistant Environmental Engineering Professor Lauren Redfern at Florida Gulf Coast University explains what happens during a main break.
“You have your water distribution system. It’s pressurized to pump water out to everybody. When you have a disruption in that system - so if you have a crack or a break, you lose pressure,” she said.
She says that low pressure allows other things into the pipe like soil, which can carry bacteria with it. That boil water notice is still in effect for people living and working in east Fort Myers. Redfern says now the city is likely testing the water for signs of any bacteria.
“Typically they’re testing for bacteria like E. coli, bacillus. Ones that are common in the environment, but also known to be sometimes harmful to humans. Which is why they also encourage boiling water, because this will inactivate these bacteria,” she said.
The city says you can still shower with the water and use it for your laundry. Just don’t drink it or use it to wash dishes without boiling it.
Once it’s safe to drink the water again, they’ll update their website and send notifications via Nextdoor and community associations.