Bad news, thirsty Boca residents.
The Palm Beach County Health Department has ordered the City of Boca Raton Utility Services Department to immediately address a host of long-standing problems
that might be contaminating the city's drinking water with, well, remnants of poo and other unsavory ingredients found in wastewater.
"The problem is they didn't have the proper check valves to keep reclaimed water from mixing with potable water. That means anyone drinking the potable water may have been drinking more than potable water," Jerry Phillips, Florida director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, tells New Times.
The official Notice of Violation doled out by Palm Beach health officials is dated September 19. PEER got its hand on the document Tuesday and immediately highlighted some of the most egregious aspects, including:
• Inadequate cross-contamination safeguards to prevent wastewater from entering drinking water lines. The Health Department found the city had been aware of problems since February 2006;
• Illegal chemical injection system hooked up to city water lines. This violation covers eight years;
• Reconnecting disinfected wells to city lines without adequate microbiological surveys to ensure removal of harmful contaminants; and
• Failure to conduct thorough tests for the presence of lead and copper in water lines.
The Notice of Violation gives the utility 24 hours to "eliminate any cross-connections... or discontinue service until the contaminate source is eliminated."
Phillips is quick to point out that Boca is embroiled in a whistleblower suit with Christine Ferrigan, who was a utility coordinator for more than two decades. The city canned her after she raised concerns over these very issues.
Given that some of the problems have been known for as long as six years, it might be best for all those Boca residents to stock up on Brita filters.