UPDATE: The Columbia Water Company in Columbia, Lancaster County lifted its “do not consume” order just before 6:30 p.m. Friday, after water sample tests from the Department of Environmental Protection showed that the water supply is safe for use.
This story has 3 updates
Friday is day two of a “do not consume” order for customers of Columbia Water in Lancaster County.
The company issued the order after someone broke into a water storage tank overnight Wednesday into Thursday.
Thursday morning, a worker discovered the break-in, along with a damaged ladder and muddy footprints.
Customers are being asked to wait until tests come back clear before they can use the water for drinking and cooking.
Curt Plaisted made sure his boxers had plenty of bottled water to drink.
His home was among the 8700 affected Columbia Water customers.
“When you have this many dogs in your house and they need to drink water, just like yourself, you need to drink water for coffee in the morning and everything else,” Plaisted said.
He joined a steady stream of people who stopped by the Columbia Shopping Center, one of three locations where Columbia Water set up tankers for customers to bring their own jugs and fill up.
“This was a nice thing that they are offering,” said Patricia Eck. “Because the grocery shelves are getting barren of water.”
Columbia Water General Manager David Lewis lent a hand to customers Thursday and Friday.
Lewis said he had to make sure the water was safe after workers discovered a break-in at one of the company’s storage tanks, though there was no evidence that anyone tampered with the water supply.
“Just as precaution, we felt that we should put this notice in place, make sure the water’s tested,” Lewis said. “Because you wouldn’t want to test it and then find out that there’s a problem and by then, people will have ingested the water.”
Most people were okay with the slight inconvenience, saying it could have been a lot worse.
“You can still shower and wash clothes, so I guess we’re still blessed,” Eck said.
“You just do what you have to do,” said Tammy Miller. “It’s a headache, but hey, as long as we have water to drink and cook with, that’s all that matters to me.”
Lewis said the company is also considering measures to improve security at its facilities.
“We’ll look at the security there, and see if there are things that we can do to improve that,” he said. “So that will be part of the follow-up, which is of any time there is an incident, you always look at what you can do better and make sure you improve it.”
Lewis added that any potential tampering with the water supply is taken very seriously, especially since 9-11.
Columbia Police do not have any suspects as of yet.
Lewis said investigators were able to get some good footprints at the scene, and judging from those, the intruder has a small stature.
Columbia Water Company issued a “Do Not Consume” order for customers of Columbia Water Company due to potential contamination of the drinking water supply. It was discovered today that a break-in occurred over night at one of the storage tank/pumping station locations.
At this time, it is unknown if the water in the storage tank was tampered with. The notice applies to all customers of Columbia Water Company except those in the Marietta Division. Do not drink the water until further notice.
Customers are asked to not use the water for drinking, cooking, food preparation, oral hygiene or providing to pets until further notice. Throw away any ice cubes made with tap water after 3:30 p.m. on March 13th. The water can be used for sanitary purposes such as bathing and washing. For specific health concerns, a doctor should be consulted.
Alternative water supplies are being provided by Columbia Water Company. Columbia Water will be providing a water tanker to residents as needed. The water tankers will be stationed at the Columbia Shopping Plaza and the Columbia Shopping Center. Customers will need to provide their own containers to transport water.
The storage tank that was possibly tampered with has been isolated at this time. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is conducting sampling of the tank and the distribution system to identify any potential contamination. The tank will be drained after sampling has been conducted.
Columbia Water Company anticipates resolving the problem within 3-5 days. Notice will be issued when the problem is resolved and this advisory has been lifted. For more information visit the Columbia Water Company website at www.columbiawaterco.com or call Columbia Water at 717-684-2188.
The article above provided by the Columbia Water Company.