After Water Main Break, Portland Boil Water Order in Effect

Feb 17, 2017

Parts of Portland’s Munjoy Hill are under a boil-water order after a water main break left a car-size hole in Portland’s Preble Street, one of three breaks the Portland Water District was handling Friday.

People on the portion of Munjoy Hill northeast of Sheridan Street are being told to boil their water for a minute before drinking, making ice cubes, washing food or brushing their teeth.

“That boil order is in effect until further notice; we have taken samples, and at the earliest we may be able to lift that by midnight,” says Portland Water District spokeswoman Michelle Clements.

Clements says the loss of pressure resulting from a water main break can let contaminants into the water supply.

“We don’t have any evidence that there is contamination, but when there is a significant loss of pressure, contaminants can be introduced into the system. That is why we have a precautionary boil water order,” she says.

Clements says there are about 80-100 water main breaks a year, especially in the winter, and they usually don’t result in a boil-water order. But she says this is a large water main and the area is vulnerable because of Munjoy Hill’s elevation.

Preble Street is now closed between Lancaster Street and Marginal Way. It’s expected to reopen around 9 p.m.

A six-inch main broke in South Portland too. But Portland Water District workers were able to patch it while repairs were underway, and no one lost service.

Credit Portland Water District

District foreperson John Kennie says at this time of year, multiple breaks are par for the course.

“The ground shifts because of the frost and — that’s the way it goes,” he says.

And district workers were out in Westbrook as well today, repairing a main break there.