Repairs continue Friday after a damaged main led to water loss for Fort Lauderdale and neighboring cities that temporarily closed businesses, evacuated hotels and impacted hundreds of thousands of residents in Broward County.
Officials said a short-term fix has restored water services but still encourage residents to boil water before consuming through the weekend as bottled water distribution was scheduled to continue starting at 8 a.m.
"We continue to work on a long-term resolution. It is very possible we will again lose water service as we make continued long-term repairs," Mayor Dean Trantalis said.
The damaged water main forced the city to issue a local state of emergency. City officials said there were no reports of significant issues.
Trantalis said in a statement Thursday that a subcontractor repairing electric lines for Florida Power and Light struck and damaged a 42-inch city pipe near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. This water main supplies raw water from the city's wellfields to the Fiveash water treatment plant.
The city had lost its water supply as well as other cities that include Oakland Park, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Sea Ranch Lakes and Wilton Manors, as well as Port Everglades and sections of Tamarac and Davie. More than 220,000 residents are impacted.
In a news conference Thursday evening, city officials said the short-term fix was a partial patch and a concrete bunker. They said water flow is back and a little under pressure, but should be back to normal by the evening.
The subcontractor, Florida Communications Concepts, have been cited and issued a notice to appear in an enforcement action, Trantalis said in a statement. He noted that the subcontractor was not working for the city, nor was the work related to any city or airport project.
Officials from Fort Lauderdale's public works department said crews had been working through the night, including getting repair parts from Miami-Dade County, and added the supply could be resumed by the evening at the earliest.
A boil water notice has been issued for the cities while residents have been notified to be prepared to be without water anywhere from 24 to 36 hours.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue crews say they are receiving help from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crews, which all sent tanker trucks to be placed around the city as fire hydrants are not working. Firefighters say they can also pull water from canals and lakes if the need arises.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he has been in contact with both Trantalis and Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen, adding that bottled water is being sent to the area until the problem is fixed.
Fort Lauderdale has declared a local state of emergency in an effort to obtain needed supplies while locations have been opened for distribution of bottled water. Oakland Park-based Funky Buddha Brewery also gave away gallons water to patrons affected by the main break.
Hotels affected by the water stoppage have been evacuated while the Broward County Courthouse closed around noon for the rest of the day as has the Galleria Mall.
Trantalis said a subcontractor working for Florida Power and Light struck the main and caused it to collapse, but was not doing work for the city at the time.
FPL released a statement saying they are investigating the incident and working with the city at this time.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport officials say their main water supply comes from the city of Hollywood and they are not impacted at this time.
Trantalis said there have been no reported issues from hospitals or nursing homes, with each of the city's three hospitals using bottled water resources at this time.
Residents are encouraged to call 954-828-8000 for updates.