South New Berlin Issues Boil Water Advisory
Published: July 7th, 2023
By: Lilli Iannella

South New Berlin issues boil water advisory During an active boil water advisory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises to boil tap water in order to remove any bacteria or viruses that may be contaminated by equipment failure or insufficient disinfectant in the water supply. (Photo by Lilli Iannella)

SOUTH NEW BERLIN– South New Berlin released a boil water advisory for its water district on Wednesday afternoon until further notice. David Gorman, the director of Chenango County’s Environmental Health Department, said the advisory will most likely last for two to three days.

Routine testing in the South New Berlin municipal water disinfection system, specifically in a campground the Otsego County municipality serves, revealed inadequate disinfection levels related to a lack of chlorine presence, Gorman said. The issue was due to a mechanical failure on the chlorine pump, he said, and he was not sure why the pump failed.

Disinfection is used to destroy harmful microbes, like bacteria and viruses, that can be in drinking water, according to the town’s boil water notice.

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Gorman said until the advisory is lifted, South New Berlin water district members of both Chenango and Otsego County should take proper precautions and use bottled water or boiled tap water.

Boiling water removes any bacteria or viruses that may be contaminated by equipment failure or insufficient disinfectant in the water supply, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

David Kaminski, the officer in charge at the Town of New Berlin Police Department, said he has noticed a misunderstanding among community members regarding when to use boiled or tap water during the advisory. On Thursday, his department posted a water use brochure on Facebook, which is similar to the CDC’s guidance.

Before using tap water, the boil water notice advised people to bring the water to a rolling boil for about two minutes. Boiled tap water or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes by hand, brushing teeth and preparing food, the notice said.

The CDC said bottled water is the best option, followed by boiled water and water disinfected with bleach.

Water should be boiled even if it is filtered, the CDC also said, since most household water filters typically do not remove all bacteria or viruses.

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Gorman said if there are any pathogens in the inadequately disinfected water and someone drinks it, it could cause sickness. But he said the town has rarely found pathogens, even in water that has not been disinfected yet.

“It's unlikely that they're going to encounter anything,” Gorman said. “This is mostly just to make sure that nobody is going to get sick.”

Most people who drink water under a boil water advisory will not get sick, the CDC said, but potential symptoms are similar to food poisoning, which include nausea, diarrhea, cramps and mild fever.

Drinking the water may pose a health risk for infants, elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems, the boil water notice said, and those who experience any of the symptoms should seek medical advice.

The town has repaired the pump and it is working again, Gorman said on Thursday afternoon, but they need two samples that are free of bacteria 24 hours apart. He estimated a wait of two to three days until testing shows water at the appropriate disinfection levels.

In 2021, South New Berlin faced a similar boil water advisory due to a failure in its system’s chlorine pump, an article published by The Evening Sun said. Following the issue, the town bought two injection pumps– one to replace the failed part, and another incase of a similar emergency.

In 2019, the Village of Bainbridge issued a boil water advisory due to a broken pipe, another article by The Evening Sun said.

Gorman said situations like that of the most recent advisory also take place across other municipalities.

“It happens with everybody who treats their water,” he said. “At some point or another, something happens, and they lose the disinfection.”

For those who have further questions or want updates about the advisory, the boil water notice said to contact The New Berlin Town Clerk’s Office, at 607-847-8909 or 607-373-0894, or the Chenango County Environmental Health Department, at 607-337-1673.