About 600 east Saint John homes and businesses are under a boil water after a 53-year-old water main broke.
The break in the 250-millimetre (roughly 10-inch) cast iron water main on Hickey Road, near On the Vine Meat & Produce, was discovered "late Friday evening into early Saturday morning," said city spokesperson Nathalie Logan.
It left area residents without any water for about 14 hours, according to Logan.
The city turned off the water at around 6 a.m. Saturday until about 8 p.m., she said, after it hand-delivered a notice to the affected residents, advising them of the "infrastructure failure" and boil order.
People at the following addresses should boil their water for at least one minute to kill bacteria, and let the water cool before using:
1414-1720 Hickey Rd. (Park Place Apartments)
301 Heather Way (Building #1, Building #2, Building #3)
Morning Side Court
Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, juice, coffee or tea, or washing vegetables that will not be cooked, the notice advises.
"The presence of low chlorine means that disinfection may not be effective and thus there may be bacteria in the water that can cause illness in humans," it states.
These organisms can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms, and may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some elderly people, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
Residents asked to notify others
No public advisory about the water main break or boil order has been issued.
The hand-delivered notice asks residents to share the boil order information with "all the other people who drink this water, especially those in the affected area who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses).
"You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand."
The water main that failed is a main potable water feed into the east Saint John subdivision, said Saint John Water director Kendall Mason.
"The typical process for notifying residents of a boil water order is to hand deliver notices to impacted residents unless it spans across multiple areas across the city," he said in an emailed statement.
The water main was repaired, and boil order notices were hand-delivered prior to water being restored "to ensure residents understood to boil the water prior to usage."
Mason and Logan did not indicate what time the notices were delivered, but it was after 8 p.m., according to a social media post by Ward 4 Coun. Paula Radwan.
"There will be water running this evening but you will be under a boil water order," she posted shortly after 8 p.m.
"Please listen to the communication papers going out to you. When staff have them dropped off to everyone, the water will be turned on. Thank you for your patience."
Staff are still investigating the cause of the break in the water main, which has a recorded service date of 1969, said Mason.
"It should be noted that the age of the pipe is approximately 50 years old, but the asset life span is 75 years or greater therefore there should be considerable life remaining in the pipe," he said.
"Saint John Water historically experienced a high of 90 to 100 water main breaks per year. However due to significant investments being made in water and sewer infrastructure in recent years the annual average number of water main breaks has fallen to between 30 to 40 per year."
People at increased risk should seek advice about drinking water from their health-care provider, the city advises.
Anyone who experiences persistent symptoms may want to seek medical advice, it says.
The tap water is safe to use for showers, to bathe and for swimming pools.
It is also safe to wash dishes in hot, soapy water and then air dry, or to use a dishwasher.
Two sets of clean samples are required before the boil order can be lifted, said Mason.
That means the earliest the boil order will be rescinded is Wednesday evening, he said.
"We are evaluating all available information and working closely with the Department of Health," the advisory states.
"We will inform you when you no longer need to boil your water."