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Mandatory water restriction for Hopewell after half a million gallons lost

HOPEWELL, Va. -- Some 9,000 Hopewell residents will need to boil their water for at least the next two days after a pipe burst at a water plant, releasing approximately half a million gallons of water, officials said Friday.

"The water company has issued a boil water notice for at least the next two days starting immediately. Please boil your water for a minimum of one minute, and let it cool before consuming," Hopewell officials said. "We will notify you when the notice has been lifted."

A Code Red emergency message alerted residents Friday morning that the city is under a mandatory water restriction, after a pipe burst at the Virginia American Water plant when they were doing maintenance.

The pipe flooded the building and crews lost the power to run pumps and produce treated water to the thousands of customers, according to Senior Project Engineer Leslie Steves.

"There’s a lot of water that’s currently being lost," said Steves during a press conference at City Hall.

On an average day, Hopewell customers use  four million gallons of water per day.

Bottled water will be available beginning Friday, March 30 from 1:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hopewell High School, 400 S. Mesa Drive. Bottled water distribution will continue tomorrow until further notice at Hopewell High School from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Clean drinking water from water tankers will also be distributed on Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. at Carter G. Woodson Middle School, 1000 Winston Churchill Drive. Customers are asked to bring their own clean containers to fill.

 Virginia American Water

Virginia American Water

As a result of the city-wide water emergency and mandatory water restriction, Hopewell City Public Schools dismissed early.

"We apologize for the inconvenience and are working closely with City officials as they strive to remedy this situation immediately," a school representative said.

Officials said that a boil water advisory is a standard precaution whenever there is loss of pressure in water mains. Virginia American Water will provide information as to when the advisory is lifted. Until further notice, impacted customers should bring tap water to a rolling boil for one minute and allow cooling before using for consumption, drinking, making baby formula, ice cubes, washing vegetables and fruit, and for brushing teeth.

A spokesperson from John Randolph Medical Center sent the following statement:

We are currently bringing in potable and non potable water and have been able to serve our patients throughout the day. We continue to evaluate each patient and their individual situation to determine their best course of treatment.

The water emergency also forced many of the city's restaurants to close and the fire department to borrow water tanks from nearby jurisdictions.

"My concern is that we lose hydrant pressure in the event of fire," Hopewell Fire Chief Donald Hunter said.

During a 4 p.m. press conference, Virginia American Water Director of Operations Lauren Sufleta said there was no immediately timeline available when the plant will be fully functioning.

"We appreciate their patience and understanding," Sufelta said to residents of Hopewell. "This was a very unfortunate event for us and unplanned. We have some of the greatest minds and people at our disposal with American Water. We are bringing them from all over and we are doing our best to get you back into the water service that you're so used to receiving from us."

City officials reported that the boil water advisory should be lifted on Monday by the time schools are expected to open.

Residents can call 804-415-8802 with any questions.

Virginia American Water also recommends the following steps:

  • Throw away uncooked food or beverages or ice cubes if made with tap water during the day of the advisory;
  • Keep boiled water in the refrigerator for drinking;
  • Rinse hand-washed dishes for a minute in diluted bleach (one tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of tap water) or clean your dishes in a dishwasher using the hot wash cycle and dry cycle.
  • Do not swallow water while you are showering or bathing;
  • Provide pets with boiled water after cooling;
  • Do not use home filtering devices in place of boiling or using bottled water; most home water filters will not provide adequate protection from microorganisms;
  • Use only boiled water to treat minor injuries.