Water service restored, but boil-water order remains in effect in Worcester

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 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.”

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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 have been sent home from the campus and classes are canceled because the school has no power or water, the school said in a statement.

The water main has been repaired and crews pumped water back into the system this morning, Moylan said.

“The water is getting back to normal conditions,” he said. “There are some people that didn’t see any service disruption.”

Some residents might see discolored water when they turn on their faucets today and a boil-water order has 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 are still working this 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 has not yet restored power to the campus, after it was shut off as a safety precaution, school officials said.

A building inspector is 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.

“When systems are up and running, the campus may experience some disruptions as systems come back on line,” school officials said. “University staff will work with students and employees when they are able to return to campus to address these potential issues.”

All classes and activities have been canceled through tonight, but students can still register for courses online, school officials said.

“We are grateful to the city of Worcester for their outstanding response,” the university’s president, Barry M. Maloney, said in the statement. “We have been in constant communication and we deeply appreciate the hard working crews who worked all night and remain at work today. We ask for the patience of our students and employees as we work to restore the campus.”