Precautionary boil advisory issued in Hopewell; residents line up for free water

Posted at 8:44 PM, Mar 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-03 23:50:21-05

HOPEWELL, Va. -- Homes and businesses had water again after a long 20 hours in Hopewell, though water pressure was low, and a precautionary boil advisory has been issued; cleanup of the Appamatox continued still.

Virginia American Water (VAW) issued the boil advisory for all of its customers in the City of Hopewell as well as the subdivisions of New Birchett Estates, Cedar Creek, and Cedar Creek West, Strattford Woods, and Mulberry Woods in Prince George County.

The Hopewell Treatment Plant was shut down at approximately 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, March 3, after a diesel spill of 600 gallons made its way into the water supply near the intake. The system serves approximately 9,400 customers, or a population of approximately 20,000 people, in the City of Hopewell.

Cars as far as the eye could see lined up outside Hopewell High School Tuesdsay night, with hundreds of people thirsty and desperate for fresh water.

“There's no water pressure at all,” Ronald Gholson said. His water ran dry this afternoon and water is hard to come by in this city.

“The other stores we've gone to are sold out,” Gholson said.

The president of VAW says Gholson shouldn't have to wait much longer for water at home. William Walsh says water tests overseen by the Virginia Department of Health did not find any diesel in the water and declared it safe to drink.

“We are starting up our plant,” Walsh said.

Walsh says Hopewell citizens can expect water pressure to return at any time now, if not already. But, he is still asking people to conserve water.

As for the cause of the leak, VAW is still investigating, but Walsh told CBS 6 that maintenance was work done Monday near some backup generators, from where the fuel leaked. He expects to have a better idea by Wednesday of what happened.

Hopewell City schools will be open tomorrow

Also, more water will be handed out at Hopewell High School, Woodson Middle School and the Food Lion in Hopewell Wednesday.

How to boil your water to consume

As a safety precaution, boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, beverage and food preparation, and making ice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Boiling is the preferred method to assure that the tap water is safe to drink. Bring all tap water to a rolling boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water.

Customers who are unable to boil their water, as an alternative method of purification may use liquid household bleach to disinfect water. The bleach product should be recently purchased, free of additives and scents, and should contain a hypochlorite solution of at least 5.25%. Public health officials recommend adding 8 drops of bleach (about ¼ teaspoon) to each gallon of water. The water should be stirred and allowed to stand for at least 30 minutes before use. Water purification tablets may also be used by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

For further safety measures, Virginia American Water recommends the following steps:

- Throw away beverages and ice cubes if made with tap water,
- Keep boiled water in the refrigerator for drinking,
- Do not swallow water while you are showering or bathing,
- Provide pets with boil water after cooling,
- Do not use home filtering devices in place of boiling or using bottled water; most of the home water filters will not provide adequate protection from microorganisms,
- Use only boiled water to treat minor injuries.

VAW will notify customers when they can stop boiling their water. Until all water samples have been collected and tested, customers should continue to boil their water before consumption.

In addition, bottled water and bulk water distribution sites have been established at Hopewell High School (bottled water) on Mesa Drive and Carter G Woodson (bulk water) Middle School on Winston Churchill Drive, for customers who are awaiting restoration of their water service. Customers will be able to obtain either one case of bottled water at the high school, or 10 gallons of bulk water, using their own containers, at the middle school. This distribution will resume at 9 a.m. in the morning.

The boil water notice typically takes 48 hours to lift, and updates will be provided on the VAW website at, under the Alert Notifications section. In the meantime, all customers are asked to continue to conserve their water as much as possible, to make whatever supply they have last as long as possible.

For the most up-to-date information, customers are urged to contact Virginia American Water’s customer service center at 1-800-452-6863.