PITTSTON — Four days after two breaks in a water line prompted a boil order for 20 households, residents are waiting to hear whether their water is safe.

“We have water,” said Larry Ireland, head of the East Pittston Water District board. “We just can’t drink it.”

Because the breaks happened over a long weekend, district officials had to wait until Tuesday to hear about the next steps they must take before the water can be declared safe to drink.

Michael Abbot, of the Maine Drinking Water Program, said Wednesday the line break requires a “boil water” order as a precaution until water samples from the system can be tested to confirm the water is safe to consume.

Those results were expected Wednesday or Thursday.

At about 7 p.m. Saturday, the district’s alert system signaled an alarm and automatically sent out alerts.

Ireland, who was in Augusta at the time, returned to Pittston when he received his alert.

“We’ve always been lucky,” he said. “We might have a pump go down, but we’ve been able to replace it.”

In this case, a break in the line resulted in a loss of water pressure, Ireland said. Water district officials were able to identify the location of the leak from the presence of water on the ground.

A service team from E.J. Prescott Inc. dug up the area of the break and replaced the pipe. Crews were on the scene from 7 p.m. Saturday until about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Shortly after, Ireland said, the system sounded an alarm again, this time for a break in the pipe not far from the first one, which was also replaced. That work wrapped up by noon Sunday.

On Tuesday, Ireland said three water samples were submitted for testing, and the results were expected Wednesday. If they are negative for bacteria, he said he will let water district customers know they can drink their water.

This is the first break the system has experienced, Ireland said.

The East Pittston Water District was created in the early 1990s when the wells in the village area were discovered to be contaminated by fuel that had leaked from underground storage tanks.

The households that lost their wells are now served via pipes from two deep wells drilled and an underground storage tank.


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