Home Environment Opinion: Boil Orders Run Amuck

Opinion: Boil Orders Run Amuck

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The average human can survive for only ten days without water. While a waterline bursting on Court Street may not force citizens to test this fact, it is still clear that water is important. More than that, water is vital; it is essential to living. As such, sources of water should be handled delicately and be maintained with the utmost care. But somehow, this isn’t happening in Athens. Today’s water line break is only one example of the city’s water supply affected by the neglect of the City of Athens’ Engineering and Public Works department.

Within the past year, there have been a minimum of two other instances in which water lines broke. In January and September of 2012, breaks in the water line were reported, which resulted in tearing up the road in one situation and water discoloration in the other. Not to mention a boil order being issued in March and James Hall residents being without water on two different occasions only weeks from each other. All of these problems with the water lines have happened within the last year. Issues like these not only cause discomfort to affected citizens, but they can also be very dangerous.

In many cases with water line breaks, a boil order will be issued. A boil order is a recommendation that all citizens boil water for three minutes before using, discard any ice cubes and use only plastic and sterilized utensils. In other words, the water from the faucet is not safe for the time being. While this is problem enough, the unsafe water puts citizens with uncompromised immune systems at an even bigger risk. The City of Athens released today’s boil order using their Emergency Alerts Alert Center on the website. The alert for the boil order concluded by saying “Immuno-compromised persons … may be more susceptible to infection by Crytosporidium and other microbial contaminants, and should be extra careful.” Damaged water lines cause unnecessary risks for citizens.

Further danger is posed when a water line breaks onto a street. As was the case in today’s break, water poured onto the street. Citizens driving through it face possible safety threats by hydroplaning (gliding on top of the water and losing control of the vehicle) or even just lack of visibility. These driving conditions then become hazardous to pedestrians as well as drivers.

To give the City of Athens’ Engineering and Public Works department some credit, they did finally decide to replace the existing 1950’s era pipes. It only took five incidents of discomforting and potentially endangering citizens of Athens within a year to decide to replace the 60-year-old pipes.

Citizens may not be withering away from lack of water, but there are still many risks associated with water lines breaking. When the city officials do not take caution to maintain water lines, they put everyone in danger. Hopefully with new pipes and with a new outlook toward due diligence, these city officials will strive toward maintaining safety rather than negligence.

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  1. deb

    February 27, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    good job! great point!


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