Chapel Hill Water Is Safe To Drink

OWASA service map

Officials said OWASA's water supply reached very low levels due to the temporary shutdown at the Jones Ferry Road water plant on Thursday because of an accidental overfeed of fluoride in the water treatment process and due to a separate, major water main break Friday in Chapel Hill.

Area hospitals continued to operate normally, despite the water shortage.

"Do not use it under any circumstance", Orange County Health Director Coleen Bridger said at a news conference.

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"We're gonna have to soak it up, we're gonna have to soak it up because we've got family here visiting, we can't afford to leave right now", said resident OJ Iftihar.

The utility began getting water from Durham, but a supply pipe broke early Friday, leaking up to 1.5 million gallons of water and causing a fall in water pressure needed to keep harmful bacteria from growing.

Emergency water bottle donations are being accepted at the Chapel Hill Community Center.

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They will distribute water as long as supplies last. The timing raised doubts about whether the men's basketball game between North Carolina and Notre Dame could be played Saturday night. Officials dismissed elementary students at 1:30 p.m., middle school students at 2:10 p.m. and high school students at 2:55 p.m. UNC-Chapel Hill officials have also announced classes canceled and the campus closed at 1 p.m.

The Orange Water and Sewer Authority reported Sunday that all its operations have returned to normal and its water storage tanks were full. Using water could result in contamination of the OWASA system. And residents were told they could use the water again but were still cautioned to conserve water where available. MORE: No water at UNC, students respond on social mediaBusiness owners affected by the emergency were clearly frustrated.

"When we have situations where the water is unsafe to use, the Health Department, by state law, must close all businesses - food, lodging, restaurants", said Bridger. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools closed early as well.

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The Orange Health Department said to avoid boiling water and only use bottled water - including for flushing toilets, washing hands, and cooking. OWASA anticipates it can have the Jones Ferry Road plant up and running today.

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