What you need to know about drinking water


Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority is asking residents to restrict water use to essential needs only until power is restored throughout the two counties.

“Even though power has been restored to the BJWSA water treatment plants, the booster pump stations needed to distribute the water to all parts of our service area are without power and are being operated on generators,” the utility said in a news release Sunday.

The high number of residents who remained in the area during Hurricane Matthew is putting a strain on the system until power is restored, the utility said.

The utility also warned Lowcountry residents to stay out of standing water because of possible contamination from leaking sewer lines.

“While the water lines are in good shape, the sewer lines are of special concern,” a utility news release said. “Some may have unidentified underground leaks, which when mixed with heavy rainfall and storm surge associated with (Hurricane) Matthew, can carry sewage-related bacteria to the surface when it will mix in the standing pool.”

On Hilton Head Island, water and sewer service will be restored when power is restored, Hilton Head Public Service District general manager Pete Nardi said Saturday night.

And when it comes back, customers will be advised to boil water used for drinking, cooking and dishwashing for the short term, he said.

Nardi said the primary wastewater treatment plant for the Hilton Head’s largest water and sewer utility fared well in Hurricane Matthew.

But a number of sewer pump stations were left underwater.

“We need the power to run the sewer pump stations and our water systems,” Nardi said.

Most of the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority service is running, said spokesperson Pamela Flasch.

Exceptions were a number of barrier islands, which will soon be back on line, Flasch said. Service was turned off ahead of Hurricane Matthew to Gibbs (Secession), Cane, Cat, Distant, Vivian’s, Coosaw, Fripp, Hunting and Harbor islands.

BJWSA customers on St. Helena Island and Point South are under a precautionary boil-water advisory.

Those advisories were issued by the utility and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control because of low pressure that occurred during Hurricane Matthew. The utility is working to restore normal pressure, according to its website.

How to purify water

BJWSA has issued the following information for those under boil-water advisories:

▪  Residents and businesses in the affected areas are urged to use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, and giving to pets until further notice.

▪  Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms that may be present in the water. Some water filters do not protect against bacteria, so customers with filters are advised to contact the manufacturer for more information or boil their tap water.

▪  The water is safe for bathing and doing laundry.

▪  Residents may purify the water by using one of several methods, but the primary method is boiling the water.

Here are the details:

If water does not appear to be clear, strain it through a clean cloth into a container to remove any sediment or floating matter. If water is clear, omit this step.

Boil the water vigorously for at least one minute.

After allowing the water to cool, it is ready to use. If desired, a pinch of salt added to each quart of water, or pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another several times will improve the taste.

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale