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After 10M gallons spill in water main break, Springfield issues boil order and cancels school

According to the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, a 36-inch water main break was discovered in a wooded area off of St. James Avenue on Sept. 12, 2023. The break dropped water pressure low enough that officials issued a boil order.
Springfield Water and Sewer Commission
Part of the Springfield Water and Sewer treatment plant on the Connecticut River, 2017.

Residents in Springfield and Ludlow, Massachusetts, should boil their tap water before using it to drink or eat. That's after a large water main broke on Tuesday in Springfield off of St. James Avenue, spilling some 10 million gallons.

That dropped the water pressure low enough to pose a bacterial contamination risk, according to the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, which issued the boil order Tuesday night.

"Although water service has been restored, all residents are advised to either boil all water or use bottled water for drinking, food preparation, mixing baby formula, making ice, washing food or dishes, brushing teeth or any other activity involving the consumption of water.

Josh Schimmel, the commission's executive director, said toilets are "fine to use."

"You can bathe — don't get the water in your mouth," he said. "If you have a child, infant, or elderly or compromised person that can't bathe themselves, use a sponge bath so you don't get water in their mouth."

Schimmel said the boil order is a precaution after there was a large drop in water presser from the break. He estimates the break released 10 million gallons.

If tests remain clear, Schimmel is hopeful the order will be lifted as soon as Thursday.

Public schools in Springfield have been closed for Wednesday, with after-school activities also canceled.

Ludlow, which schools remained open.

"Water is not yet consumable so please send your child in with additional water/drinks if you have them available," the district wrote on its Facebook page.

The water main break occurred as Springfield voters cast ballots in a preliminary election, which included a five-way contest for mayor.

Incumbent Domenic Sarno, who finished first in the voting and will face City Councilor Justin Hurst in November, was late to the party at his campaign headquarters because he was dealing with the break.

Sam Hudzik contributed.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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