SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has declared a state of emergency following the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission issuing a boil water notice for all customers in Springfield and Ludlow due to a major water main break.

Households and businesses should not drink tap water without boiling for at least one minute or use bottled water for drinking, ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food prep. The order is expected to last for 48 hours pending sample results that confirm there is no bacterial contamination.

“I am declaring this state of emergency due to the serve impact upon our city, our residents and businesses and to avail ourselves to Governor Healey’s State of Emergency funding. The recent rain and flash flooding has really hit our communities hard with costly infrastructure rebuilding and repairs. From Springfield and the Berkshires to Leominster, communities across the Commonwealth have been greatly impacted by these natural disasters. I spoke with Governor Maura Healey last night to discuss the situation here in Springfield and she offered her support. I have also spoken to MEMA and DEP officials last evening and this morning too,” said Sarno during an update Wednesday morning.   

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MAP: Areas that need to boil water

A Public Safety Alert was sent by MEMA to cell phones in the Greater Springfield area to notify residents of the boil order, especially for those that do not reside in Springfield or Ludlow but may be in the area for business, school, medical appointments, entertainment, etc. 

Visit the interactive map to search by address to see if you’re affected by the Boil Water Order.

The Communications Manager of the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission says they discovered the source of the problem at a distribution center in Springfield and Ludlow. A 36-inch water main break was found in a wooded area behind the Big Y on St. James Avenue.

As for fixing the break itself, the city has declared a state of emergency due to the magnitude of damage. The repairs are going to take some time, the area needs to be completely rebuilt, including the drainage system before the water main can be restored.

“We’re talking probably 5,6,700-feet of a stream channel, culvert system. The drainage system was down about ten plus feet from the water main, which was about six feet underground. So you’re dealing with almost 20 feet down to do our repairs,” said Springfield DPW Director Chris Cignoli.

A project like this will also cost a hefty penny. That’s where access to some state funding will be needed.

“It’s going to cost millions of dollars,” said Sarno after decaling the state of emergency. “That avails ourselves to funding. Specifically Governor Healy, who called me late last night, also has put together a fund state-wide to deal with all the devastation that’s occurred with the flooding and rain activity.”

Another concern is access to the materials needed for this kind of job.

Joshua Schimmel, Executive Director of Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, told 22News, “There’s some work to do here, but I know that everybody will do it as quickly as they can. I think the declaration of an emergency is only going to help that cause.”

VIDEO: Officials provided an update Wednesday morning

Springfield officials provided an update at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday on the boil-water notice, the ongoing situation at the location of the break, planned repairs, schools, and other matters.

“While no bacteria samples have confirmed the presence of bacteria at this time, this notice is being issued as a precaution. However, pressure loss and discolored or turbid water due to breaks or changes in the distribution system may be related to the potential for the presence of disease-causing organisms. These organisms include bacteria and viruses. These may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.”

Jaimye Bartak, Communications Manager of the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission

As of Tuesday night, the Commission says crews have isolated the break, and system pressure has been restored across Springfield and Ludlow. It is noted by the Commission that they will continue to collect water samples and will advise when you are able to drink the water.

Residents are being advised NOT to drink their water without boiling it first. Springfield and Ludlow residents are being advised to bring all of their water to a boil for one minute and let it cool before drinking it. You are also being advised to discard any ice, beverages, uncooked food, and formula made with tap water collected after 3 p.m. Tuesday. MA DPH procedures are to also be followed by food establishments.

22News had a chance to speak with Springfield resident, Lalita Hall on how the water break has impacted them. “I was in the shower and the pressure went. It went light it was coming down and then it went light like it was going to cut off,” said Hall.

To further correct the problem, the Commission is maintaining chlorine disinfection throughout its distribution system to kill bacteria and viruses that may be present. The Commission added, “We will continue to verify adequate pressure and will collect bacteria samples to confirm adequate water quality in our distribution system so that MassDEP can lift this boil water requirement. We will let you know when the water is safe to drink and the boil water order has been lifted.”

The Commission anticipates resolving the problem within 48 hours. Mayor Domenic Sarno provided an update on the situation from his campaign party Tuesday evening.

Josh Schimmel, Executive Director of Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, stated, “If you boil the water for one minute, it is safe to drink once you let it cool down, and then you can use it for any of the domestic reasons you need. Toilets are fine to use, you can bathe, and don’t get the water in your mouth. If you have a child, infant, or compromised person, use a sponge bath so you don’t get water in their mouth.”

The city says they hope to be able to lift the boil water notice by Thursday and that they are working on getting pallets of water to distribute.

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