Customers in center city and the south side are advised to take the precaution.
The Reading Area Water Authority issued a boil water advisory Saturday for customers in much of center city and the south side of Reading.
The advisory affects about 2,004 water customers, including downtown businesses.
“The affected boil water advisory area is Walnut Street from North Eighth to North Second Street, and Walnut Street south to Canal Street,” Kim Mazur, RAWA’s director of operations, said in an email.
The precautionary measure was prompted by a lack of positive pressure in the water system, RAWA said in a news release. When that happens, impurities can make their way into the system, and silt and other materials can be stirred up, causing a cloudy water condition.
“RAWA takes weekly routine samples to test for bacteria in the water,” Mazur said. “One of our samples was positive for bacteria in the low-pressure zone. The next two closest samples tested negative in this area.”
He said RAWA took immediate action to rectify the problem.
“The procedure is to flush the area and conduct a second sample at the same location,” Mazur said, noting crews worked on flushing the system Saturday and will do the same today.
Until the advisory is lifted, customers are encouraged to boil water or use bottled water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and preparing food. The advisory suggests boiling water for one minute and then letting it cool before using.
The advisory caused problems Saturday for at least one downtown business.
“It’s a real pain-in-the-you-know-what at 5 o’clock on a Saturday evening,” said Judy Henry, owner of Judy’s on Cherry restaurant and The Speckled Hen Cottage Pub at South Fourth and Cherry streets. “We were scrambling.”
Henry directed staff to boil water, turn off ice machines and get rid of ice that had been made. She also sent staff out to buy bottled water and soda.
“I’m sure we’re going to run out of all our sparkling water on hand because we didn’t expect to be using them,” she said.
She was told that cooking with the city water was all right.
“Cooking isn’t apparently a problem,” she said. “We learned that.”
Henry hoped water would be back to normal by the time she opens on Tuesday.
“Hopefully, we get through tonight,” she said. “It’s just one thing we didn’t expect to be dealing with.”
Over at the DoubleTree by Hilton at 701 Penn St., it was business as usual.
“We have a really good filtration system here,” said Eric Brown, general manager at the hotel. “We have an extra filtration system here.”
A separate filtration system, Brown said, was included in the hotel’s construction in 2015.
Saturday’s advisory was the second one RAWA issued in the past week. Last Sunday, a water main break in Muhlenberg Township led to an advisory in northeast Reading and the Northmont areas. That advisory was lifted Sept. 21.