Featured Stories

West Palm Beach in legal hot water with Health Department

WV Chemical spill
People fill containers with fresh water after toxins affect the local tap water. (AP Photo/Michael Switzer)

Water woes continue for West Palm Beach, after state health officials said the city may have broken the law last month when it took nine days to reveal it had dangerous levels of toxins detected in the water.

The DOH said it should have been notified within 24 hours.

Below is a statement from Florida Department of Health regarding the matter:

“I want to be clear: The City and Utility did not inform the State upon receiving initial sampling results that the water system was compromised, even though they had sampling results for several days. The City was required to inform the state immediately upon knowledge that the drinking water system was compromised, per the Florida Administrative Code I have referenced below.
Chapter 62-560.410 of the Florida Administrative Code requires public water purveyors to notify the regulatory agency for situations that may pose an acute risk to human health as soon as possible, no later than 24 hours after the system learns of a situation.”

On May 28, 2021, the City of West Palm Beach notified the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County (DOH) that elevated levels of cyanobacteria toxins (blue-green algae) were detected in the City of West Palm Beach Water Treatment Plant, which is sourced by Clear Lake. Upon notification, DOH responded and issued a Public Health Advisory within the same day. DOH coordinated with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to support the analysis of collected samples in the area and provided technical assistance for water treatment. As a result of the state’s swift action to protect public health, on June 4, the department distributed this release [palmbeach.floridahealth.gov] providing updates and guidance to the community. I recommend reading that in its entirety.
The department is assessing and investigating the situation to evaluate possible future enforcement actions.

Thank you.

Weesam Khoury
Communications Director
Florida Dept. of Health

The Florida Department of Health sent a warning letter Tuesday to West Palm Beach’s director of Public Utilities warning that the city possibly broke the law with its recent handling of water problems and other issues.

The advisory was issued May 28 after water test results showed the presence of the toxin cylindrospermosin. It wasn’t lifted until almost a week later after samples taken June 1-2 showed toxin levels below health advisory limits.

The timeline of when the public should have notified has been under scrutiny from the Florida Department of Health.