Bath water-line break closes school, restaurants

Published 9:37 am Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Staff Writer
BATH — A water-line break in Bath on Tuesday morning closed Bath Elementary School and several restaurants.
The town will be under a system-pressure advisory until this afternoon, at the earliest, said Acting Regional Engineer Harry Bailey with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources/Department of Public Water Supply.
Under the advisory, residents are advised to boil water before consuming it, he said.
Because of the water-line break, Blackbeard’s Slices &Ices on Carteret Street never opened on Tuesday. The restaurant lost revenue from walk-in customers, and canceled two separate luncheons for 12-people each and a catered-dinner for 45 people.
The restaurant doesn’t expect to open until about 6 p.m. today, and Bath Elementary School will be closed while the town awaits results from water-contamination screening tests collected by the Department of Public Water Supply on Tuesday evening.
The department expects to have the results by this afternoon, at which time the system-pressure advisory can be lifted if the water comes back free of bacteria, Bailey said.
The department will notify the Beaufort County Health Department whether the water is safe to drink, and the health department will in turn notify the town’s school and restaurants.
A red flag was put out across the town after workers with Washington Electric Utilities struck a three-inch water line on Carteret Street while installing a utility pole around 11 a.m. Tuesday.
With water cut off to the town, Bath Elementary School was forced to release all students and faculty at 1 p.m.
Harris said health concerns, such as students not being able to wash their hands after using the bathroom, led to the early release.
Parents were forced to scramble to pick up their children, some leaving work early, others finding their children rides from neighbors.
Lynn Lewis, of Waterside Drive in Bath, said she was at lunch when her phone rang with an alert about the early release.
Lewis, director of the Washington Tourism Development Authority, was too busy with work to pick up her son, Gray, at school.
Lewis said that parents in the small town try to look out for one another.
Repairs to the water line were complete by 4 p.m., Bailey said, less than an hour after students are normally released at Bath Elementary School.
The town has seen its share of water line breaks, according to Harris and Bailey. Bailey recalled a similar situation more than a year ago.
Some residents and business owners are growing weary of the breaks.
Logelfo hopes the breaks don’t become too commonplace and hamper his business even more in the rugged economy.
Cutline for corrsponding photo: John Logelfo Jr., owner of Blackbeard’s Slices &Ices in Bath, puts up the chairs at his restaurant at 2 p.m. Tuesday. A water-line break caused a water outage throughout Bath and kept Logelfo from opening Blackbeard’s. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)