News & Press

RISK ALERT RE: Water Main Break

Office of Risk Management

RISK ALERT
No. 2010-04
To:      Principals and Pastors
From: Mary Grassa-O’Neill and Joseph McEnness
RE:     Water Main Break                                                            
May 2, 2010

Water service to all Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) customer communities east of Weston has been interrupted by a major water pipe break in Weston. Due to this break, A BOIL WATER ORDER IS BEING ISSUED FOR DRINKING WATER FOR ALL MWRA COMMUNITIES EAST OF WESTON UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

In addition, emergency water conservation measures are being implemented for all impacted communities. Water should be rapidly boiled for at least 1 minute. MWRA is activating its emergency water supplies such as the Sudbury Aqueduct, Chestnut Hill Reservoir and Spot Pond Reservoir. THIS WATER WILL NOT BE SUITABLE FOR DRINKING, but can be used for bathing, flushing and fire protection.

The leak is located at the location where the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel meets the City Tunnel on Recreation Road. This 120-inch diameter pipe transports water to our communities east of Weston - as far north as Wilmington and south to Stoughton. Water is leaking into the Charles River at a rate of over 8 million gallons an hour. MWRA crews are on site, engineers are assessing the situation to determine next steps. Updates will be posted on Mass.gov and MWRA's website at www.mwra.com throughout the event. People can also call Mass 211.

Impacted Communities are: Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Canton, Chelsea, Everett, Lexington, Lynnfield Water District, Malden, Marblehead, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Nahant, Newton, Norwood, Quincy, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Somerville, Stoneham, Stoughton, Swampscott, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, Winchester, Winthrop.

Recommendations for Schools:

The Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Schools Office has been in continuous communication with the City of Boston, its schools office and the Department of Public Health. At the present time, schools are not being required to close, however, in order to remain open they should address a number of precautions and restrictions relative to the use of water. A list of precautions is on the following page, and the full DPH list is attached.

The RCAB Superintendent of Schools, Mary Grassa O’Neill, and the CSO Team will be reaching out to those schools that will be directly affected by this order to review the requirements of remaining open during the water crisis. When considering whether or not to remain open, schools should first determine if they will be able to comply, within the first two hours of school, with the requirements noted by the Department of Public Health. These requirements can also be found on the DPH website, at the following link:

http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/drinking/boilordr.htm

Office of Risk Management

RISK ALERT –  No. 2010-04 - RE: Water Main Break   May 2, 2010

  • Water bubblers should be turned off or taped to prevent students from drinking from them.
  • Hand sanitizers must be available in all bathrooms to use after hand washing. Hand washing with water is acceptable provided that washing is followed by using a hand sanitizer. Teachers should remind students of the need to use hand sanitizers in addition to washing with water.
  • Hand sanitizers should be located in the cafeteria in every school, and preferably in classrooms as well.
  • Any food that requires cooking in water (even if it is boiled) should be avoided to be on the safe side. Disposable serving trays and utensils can be used to reduce the need for washing
  • Each school should have a supply of bottled water available in the main office for students without their own
  • Ice cubes should not be used unless made with water that has been boiled or sanitized
  • Pans and serving utensils should be washed and sanitized with bleach per the DPH recommendations
  • Tables should be regularly cleaned with disinfectants

CHILD CARE CENTERS AND SCHOOLS should use only bottled or boiled water for mixing infant formula, hand washing, and for mixing sanitizing solutions for diapering areas and surfaces such as tabletops and toys. Adult employees should use a hand sanitizer after washing hands with tap water and soap. Do not use drinking fountains and discontinue the use of water play tables. Follow all guidance provided by the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) and/or the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC).

Additional Steps

  • Issue a communication to your parents, students and faculty advising of the precautions your school is taking and request that students bring in bottled water
  • Notify the Catholic Schools Office, via email at oneill_m@rcab.org of any decision to close
  • Obtain information on the delivery and location of emergency water supplies in your community and monitor information on Department of Public Health website for updates and additional information
  • Provide your parents, students and faculty with regular updates and information relative to steps being taken to maintain a safe environment
  • Parishes located outside of the affected area may be able to assist nearby affected schools and parishes by obtaining bottled water

What the Catholic Schools Office and the Office of Risk Management is doing to assist

The CSO will maintain communication and coordination with all government authorities and will provide daily email updates to our school community

The CSO will post communications and updates on the CSO website  www.catholicschoolsboston.org   

The ORM is attempting to obtain access to suppliers of hand sanitizers that can provide emergency supplies to our schools. That information will be distributed to all schools and parishes as soon as we receive it

The ORM and Executive Director Joseph McEnness will continue to work with Mary Grassa O’Neill in developing additional information, recommendations and resources and all information will be posted on the ORM website  www.rcabrisk.org  

Schools with additional questions should contact Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill at 617-721-5967 or tomorrow 617-779-3604

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health

General Precautions

  • DISCARD any ice, juice, formula, stored water and uncooked foods that were prepared with tap water during the period of concern.
  • USE BOILED OR BOTTLED WATER for drinking, food preparation, mixing baby formula, making ice, washing food, manual utensil and equipment washing, rinsing and sanitizing, brushing teeth or any other activity involving the consumption of water.
  • CHILD CARE CENTERS AND SCHOOLS should use only bottled or boiled water for mixing infant formula, hand washing, and for mixing sanitizing solutions for diapering areas and surfaces such as tabletops and toys. Adult employees should use a hand sanitizer after washing hands with tap water and soap. Do not use drinking fountains and discontinue the use of water play tables. Follow all guidance provided by the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) and/or the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC).
  • RETAIL FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS must follow the guidance of the local board of health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MassDPH). Wholesale food manufacturers must follow the guidance of MassDPH. Meat processing plants must follow the guidance of MassDPH and the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • SWIMMING POOLS, HOT TUBE, AND SPAS that are operated properly, including routine monitoring for adequate disinfection levels, may continue to operate.
  • SHARE THIS INFORMATION with all other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, visitors). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.
  • TRANSLATE THE PRECAUTIONS for anyone who does not understand English.

Tips for drinking water use during a boil order
There are two simple and effective methods you can use to treat drinking water for microbiological contaminants (bacteria).

  1. Boiling: Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Laboratory data show this is adequate to make the water safe for drinking.
  2. Disinfecting: Disinfectant tablets obtained from a wilderness store or pharmacy may be used. In an emergency, liquid chlorine bleach such as Clorox© or Purex© can be used at a dose of 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach to each gallon of water. (Careful measurement with a clean dropper or other accurate measuring device is required when using liquid chlorine bleach.) Let stand for at least 30 minutes before use. Read the label to see that the bleach has 5-6% chlorine.

Washing Dishes
It is best to use disposable tableware during the time the water needs disinfection. If that is not possible, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Wash dishes normally but be sure to rinse them in a solution of 1/8 teaspoon of bleach, as mentioned above, in a gallon of warm water (submersion in a dishpan for a minimum of 5 minutes is advised). The dishes should be allowed to air dry. Gloves should be worn when handling bleach to minimize any skin irritation.
  2. Because of the many variables involved with dishes washed in a dishwasher, it is recommended that you use the additional rinse step, as described above, after washing.
    Bathing and Showering
    Young children should be given sponge baths rather than put in a bathtub where they might ingest the tap water. Adults or children should take care not to swallow water when showering.

Brushing your Teeth
Use only disinfected or boiled water for brushing your teeth.

Ice
Ice cubes are not safe unless made with disinfected or boiled water. The freezing process does not kill the bacteria or other microorganisms.

Washing Fruit and Vegetables 
Use only disinfected or boiled water to wash fruits and vegetables that are to be eaten raw.

Hand Washing
Use only boiled or disinfected water for hand washing.

Cooking
Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute before adding food.

Infants
For infants use only prepared canned baby formula that is not condensed and does not require added water.  Do not use powdered formulas prepared with contaminated water.

Houseplants and Gardens
Water can be used without treatment for watering household plants and garden plants.  The exception would be things like strawberries or tomatoes where the water would contact the edible fruit.

House Pets
The same precautions taken to protect humans should be applies to pets.  Aquatic organisms (e.g. fish) should not be exposed to water containing elevated levels of bacteria.  If the organism's water needs to be refreshed use appropriately boiled or bottled water.

Flush All Taps When The Boil Water Order Is Lifted
When flushing it is important to carefully follow the instructions provided.  Flushing your household and building water lines including: interior and exterior faucets, showers, water/ice dispensers, water treatment units, etc.  Water heaters may need to be disinfected and flushed to remove any contaminated water.  Some types of water treatment devices may need to be disinfected or replaced before being used.  Check with the manufacturer for details.  Read more about flushing