Walkersville-area residents got their first untroubled sip from the tap yesterday, more than two weeks after a sewage spill contaminated the Frederick County town's water supply.
Officials announced that the 7,500 residents on the municipal water system no longer need to boil water before drinking. An emergency hookup to the city of Frederick's water supply has supplanted the town's tainted wells.
A temporary pipeline connecting Walkerville's water system to Frederick's Monocacy water treatment plant was finished June 27. Town officials have been busy since then flushing out their lines to remove bacteria.
The town's wells were fouled last month when a contractor blasting rock ruptured an underground sewerage line, spilling nearly 900,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the aquifer before the leak was discovered and fixed.
With bacteria levels soaring in the town's wells, health officials warned households on the water system not to drink tap water without boiling it. Authorities also closed swimming pools and 35 restaurants.
Dr. James Bowes, Frederick County health officer, said that with the easing of the water advisory, the town's pools and restaurants will be reopened. Restaurants must first be inspected to ensure that they have properly flushed their internal pipes.
About 300 households relying on private wells have been advised to keep boiling their water, Bowes said.
Town officials have continued to pump 800,000 gallons a day from their wells in an attempt to flush them of sewage. Bacteria levels have declined considerably in recent days, according to Town Administrator Gloria Rollins.
But Rollins said the town likely will remain dependent on Frederick's water for some time, because no one can predict how soon bacteria levels in the town wells will decline enough to make them safe for drinking.