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Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 01/26/2011

WSSC delays release of first water tests

By Katherine Shaver

(This post has been updated)

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission received results Wednesday on the first tests done to determine whether tap water is safe to drink in a large part of Prince George’s County, but utility officials said they won’t release them until final testing is done Thursday.

WSSC spokesman Jim Neustadt said the utility wants the 400,000 people in the affected area to continue boiling all drinking water until “definitive results” are available. Businesses and residents south of Central Avenue (Route 214) and Landover Road (Route 202) have been under a boil water advisory since Monday, when a major water pipe burst in Capitol Heights. WSSC officials said the advisory is a precaution because contaminants can seep into the system more easily when a major pipe break causes a pressure loss.

“We don’t have definitive results yet,” Neustadt said, “so we don’t want to put out anything that might confuse customers.”

Neustadt said the WSSC has released early test results during previous boil-water advisories but found that some people stopped boiling their water prematurely. State regulations require clean results from two consecutive tests before the boil water advisory can be lifted, he said.

Results from each round of testing take 18 hours, he said. With the second round of 20 samples being taken Wednesday, final results should be available Thursday, officials said.

Water for drinking, ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and food preparation should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute and cooled, WSSC officials said. The order also applies to water used by pets.

Residents who lose power during the snow storm and can’t use their stoves or microwave ovens should use bottled water, Neustadt said. Tap water is safe for showers and hand-washing, he said.

By Katherine Shaver  | January 26, 2011; 12:59 PM ET
Categories:  Maryland  
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