Local News

Smithfield water customers remain under advisory through Sunday

Posted July 9, 2010 8:27 a.m. EDT
Updated July 9, 2010 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Consumers of the Smithfield water system will remain under a voluntary boil water advisory through Sunday, Mayor Daniel Evans said.

"This is an advisory notice not a mandatory notice, we don’t have to rush shut down any restaurants or anything of that nature,” Evans said after one water sample tested positive for coliform bacteria and another for fecal bacteria on Thursday.

The samples were taken from opposite ends of the town, Smithfield Director of Public Utilities Earl Botkin said.

The finding, which can be an indicator that other, potentially harmful bacteria might be present, prompted  Botkin to advise customers to boil their water for the second time in a week.

Residents should boil all water used for human consumption, such as drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, making ice and washing hands. Boiling water for at least one minute should kill the bacteria..

Evans said the decision to continue the voluntary advisory was based on the frequency of water issues in the town.

During the advisory, officials will be consulting with state and county environmental official private engineering and sampling companies. Samples will also be taken at new locations in the system.

Last week, the town was under a mandatory order to boil water after water there tested positive for bacteria twice.

Neither Botkin nor Evans believe the tests are a sign of a larger problem. "We feel very, very confident that our water system is okay," Botkin said.

"We feel very confident in our water supply," Evans said. "We feel it's very clean, yet there are some improvements we think we need to make in the way we do our sampling."

Botkin said the city was reviewing test sites, laboratory procedures and the impact of the hot weather to find the cause. "We will find what's causing this. We will find it," he said.

In the interim, Smithfield businesses are losing money to diners who would rather travel farther to avoid the water issue.

Andy Gemmell, a 35-year-resident of Smithfield, said he likes to patronize local businesses but decided to eat out in Clayton Thursday night.

David Isik, owner of Angelo's Pizzeria, cut back on his dinner staff after the advisory was issued. "I had one employee supposed to come in this afternoon, I told him with the new water advisory, it’s too slow. I can’t afford for him to come in. I can't pay him."

Resident Chip Ragland also expressed his concern. "It's just bothersome they can't seem to clean up the water," he said. "I think my swimming pool water is probably cleaner than the city water, because I treat it."