San Jose

Questions Remain After Apartment Tenants Tap Into Fire Line During Water Main Break

Tenants at the Foxdale Apartments in San Jose were without water from Saturday until Monday after a buried water main broke

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The water is back on at a South Bay apartment complex, but a big question remains: what was in the pipes from which tenants obtained gallons and gallons of water to use in their bathrooms and kitchens and possibly to drink?

Tenants at the Foxdale Apartments were without water from Saturday until Monday after a buried water main broke. During that time, some tenants tapped into an emergency fire sprinkler supply line to get water.

"You had people desperate," tenant Kashana Ashford said. "Desperate for water that they had to tap into a fire sprinkler system because they needed to drink, they needed to flush their toilets."

The San Jose Water Company on Tuesday reiterated that the water from those pipes is not drinking water.

"Large scale fire suppression systems are required by code and regulation to be separated from potable water systems by backflow devices," the agency said in a statement. "There is potential degradation of quality both from stagnation of the water in the pipes, and from potentially different plumbing materials not certified for use in drinking water. It should not be considered potable and carries potential risk."

Adriana Flores said everyone got in line for water, not just them, but she said her family only used the water to fill the toilet and wash dishes.

Brendan Guerrero brought her newborn home from the hospital just before the water went out. She's glad she didn't get in the water line with her neighbors.

Tenants said the front office hasn't alerted them to the potential danger, so they started warning each other.

"I was trying to tell them don't drink it, dump it out, use the gallon jugs that were being passed out yesterday," Ashford said.

Ashford said the water from the fire line had a weird odor.

It's unclear if anyone drank the water.

The fire department and San Jose Water Company wouldn't say if they plan to send someone out to test the water.

Worried tenants said that leaves them to self diagnose any possible symptoms.

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