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West Palm Beach Mayor addresses drinking water warning

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James and Dr. Poonam Kalkat held a press conference to update the public on the “Vulnerable Populations Drinking Water Advisory” Sunday morning at City Hall. The city of West Palm Beach has issued a drinking water advisory due to high levels of toxic blue-green algae detected in recent tests. According to the mayor, this is the first time that the blue-green algae toxin, a non-regulated toxin, has leached into the water supply.

Mayor James made it clear that if you live in West Palm Beach, and you are not in the “vulnerable” category listed below, you can still drink and use the tap water without concern.
Elevated levels of toxins have been detected in raw water samples from the East Lobe of Clear Lake and the finished water at the treatment plant that supplies water to the City of West Palm Beach, Town of Palm Beach and Town of South Palm Beach affecting 120,000 residents. The advisory is until further notice, but could be lifted sometime next week.

The City of West Palm Beach spokesman says, “If you pay your water bill to the City of West Palm Beach you are affected.”

Click here to watch the press conference.

According to the city, on May 19th, elevated levels of a toxin produced by cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, was detected in the raw water samples collected from the East Lobe of Clear Lake and the finished water at the treatment plant that supplies water to West Palm Beach, Palm Beach and South Palm Beach.

The following vulnerable populations should not drink the tap water, because they may be vulnerable to the effects of cylindrospermopsin:

~Young children under the age of six
~Pregnant women and nursing mothers
~Those with pre-existing liver conditions
~Those receiving dialysis treatment
~The elderly and other sensitive populations

According to the city, all other individuals not considered to be vulnerable may drink the water.

Tap water can be used for showering, bathing, washing hands, dishes, flushing toilets, cleaning and doing laundry.

The city is taking the following actions to reduce toxin levels;

Activating its emergency wells to introduce groundwater into the surface water supply.

Adding powdered activated carbon into the treatment system at the water treatment plant.

Increasing free chlorine levels within the final stages of the treatment process.

Initiating a switch to a stronger disinfectant on May 29 that is identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce levels of the toxin.

The city will distribute water bottles to any West Palm Beach, Palm Beach or South Palm Beach resident affected by the drinking water advisory.

Boiling the water will not destroy toxins and may increase the toxin levels, the city said in a release.

The city of West Palm Beach will be distributing bottled water to affected residents at Gaines Park, 1501 Australian Ave. from May 29-31, from 10 am to 1 pm

More information can be found at the city of West Palm Beach website or by calling the city’s hotline at 561-822-2222, TTY 800-​955-8771.