Do Not Drink Order issued in Kennebec County lifted

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:33 PM EDT
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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - Kennebec Water District has lifted the Do Not Drink order that was put into place Monday.

“We were first alerted by customers who were experiencing foam coming out of their taps,” Roger Crouse said.

That was at 9 am Monday.

Crouse, General Manager of the Kennebec Water District, says it wasn’t long until they realized it was firefighting foam.

“That was our first thought was this has got to be related to the firefighting effort,” said Crouse.

An effort to put out a fire at an apartment building on Elm Street in Waterville that killed one person, injured three others, and displaced almost 50 residents.

Waterville Fire Chief Shawn Esler says their first priority is always the safety of the residents.

“Our goal was to suppress the fire and get people out of the building. We certainly provided water to the firefighters on the 4th floor, and some of that foam contaminated the public water system,” Esler said.

How much foam and how did it get in the water system?

Crouse says it was no fault of the fire department. It was due to an old structure that did not have an adequate backflow prevention device.

“In this case, there is one line that is a fire service that comes in the building, and it splits into a domestic side and a fire side, and there is a backflow prevention device that prevents back flow on the domestic side. It wasn’t one on the fire side,” Crouse said.

He says they think about a gallon of foam got into the water.

“Yesterday, we did a lot of flushing, you know, moving water out of the contaminated system” Crouse said.

In the meantime, Waterville Fire and other towns helped residents by giving out water.

“We understand this has inconvenienced a lot of people, so the least that we can do is provide some water to some of our elderly folks and some of our less fortunate that cannot afford to buy water,” Esler said.

According to the water district, test results from samples collected Tuesday showed no indication of the firefighting foam in the water.

The district does encourage all customers to run water at each tap for 3-5 minutes to flush the lines within your home or business.