| NEW ORLEANS
NEW ORLEANS Oct 9 New Orleans scrambled on
Tuesday to take precautions against possible bacterial
contamination of its water supply, the second time in two years
a power outage in its aging water system has prompted a health
At least 17 schools were closed, businesses and residents
were told to boil water, and some of the city's fabled
restaurants brought in ice from outside the region after
Monday's three-minute outage at the city's main water plant left
the safety of its water in doubt.
City and state officials issued the advisory "out of an
abundance of caution" on Monday afternoon for about 300,000
residents on the east side of the Mississippi River, where most
of New Orleans lives.
Residents were told not to drink, make ice, brush their
teeth or bathe using tap water, nor should they prepare or rinse
food with tap water without boiling it first. However,
authorities said taking a hot shower using water that had passed
through a water heater would be safe.
The warning could be lifted mid-afternoon Tuesday, by which
time tests on the water supply's safety should be completed,
water board spokesman Robert Jackson said.
The city's Sewerage & Water Board director, Marcia St.
Martin, said the power outage, which occurred as workers were
switching two steam boilers, caused a drop in water pressure
that could expose the water supply to harmful bacteria.
St. Martin said a $12 million project to replace two steam
pumps by 2014 is under way and further renovations of the main
plant are planned.
But the timing of the warning prompted complaints that most
people had already consumed water when the board issued its
alert four hours after the power outage.
The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, which owns five area
restaurants including two within the city, said it was using
only boiled or bottled water for cooking and cleaning, and has
brought in additional water pumps for restroom use.