Water service has been restored in Worcester, but residents are being advised to boil their water for the next day or so, following a major water main break Monday afternoon, said Robert L. Moylan Jr., commissioner for the city’s Public Works and Parks Department.
Crews dug up a 10-foot-long section of the broken 30-inch diameter pipe on May Street where it turns into Chandler Street, Moylan said.
“Because of that break, we ultimately had to shut off water going into the city,” he said. “Not everyone, but certainly a majority of our population, including our hospitals and schools, were to be affected.”
Worcester is the state’s second-largest city, with 181,631 residents counted in the 2010 Census.
The break happened in front of Worcester State University, which was flooded with water as a result. All students were sent home from the campus on Monday and classes were canceled because the university had no power or water, the school said in a statement.
The water main was repaired and crews pumped water back into the system Tuesday morning, Moylan said. “The water is getting back to normal conditions,” he said.
Some residents might see discolored water when they turn on their faucets on Tuesday and a boil-water order had been issued for the entire city.
“It is a strictly precautionary measure,” Moylan said. “We hope that within 24 hours we can lift that boil order.”
He said boiling the water will rid it of any bacteria or pathogens, making it safe to consume.
While residents should certainly boil the water before they drink it, they must use their own judgment when it comes to washing clothes, he said.
“Certainly, the water can be used for laundry, but some might have discolored water so you run the risk that there could be some discoloration to the wash load,” Moylan said. “You can see the clarity of the water coming from your faucet, so you have to use your own best judgment.”
Crews from Worcester State University were still working Tuesday morning to clean up the mess from the water main break, school officials said.
Workers removed water from the flooded Ghosh Center for Science and Technology and sanitized the building twice, the school said.
Although the building is now dry, National Grid had not yet restored power to the campus by Tuesday afternoon, after it was shut off as a safety precaution, school officials said.
A building inspector was on site with essential employees and university police assessing damage, school officials said.
School officials plan to update the community on the situation using their website, e-mail, text, and social media.
All classes and activities were canceled through Tuesday night, but students were able to still register for courses online, school officials said.