The White House says it will remove the drinking water for all residents of South Florida who live in homes with no plumbing, but that residents are still being told to boil their water if they are sick or thirsty.
The announcement comes after Gov.
Rick Scott ordered all residents in South Florida to boil water to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease, which was found in the drinking tap water of about 4,300 homes.
Scott said in a statement on Monday that he had “no choice” but to take drastic measures after learning that a major water company had been operating without a water-treatment plant and was allowing its tap water to run off into the Gulf of Mexico.
Scott’s statement also warned that the Legionnaires-causing bacteria is a major public health threat and could cause respiratory problems for residents.
Scott’s statement, which came after a week of intense media scrutiny and calls for the governor to resign, came after Scott issued an emergency order for all homeowners in South Miami-Dade County, including those with no water-pumps, to boil.
Scott ordered that anyone with no piped water, including people who live with a water company, should boil their tap water for two minutes.
Scott also ordered a water purification station to be set up in South Beach, which residents can use for about a week and a half to prevent Legionnaires from infecting their drinking water.
Scott’s order came after officials in South Carolina were forced to shut down their water system and warned residents that they risked exposure to Legionnaires.
The state, which has the highest rate of Legionellosis in the nation, had only two days of regular tap water supplies to tap into.
The Department of Health said on Sunday that the state was on pace to have more than 2,000 cases of Legionella by the end of the week, with another 4,000 expected in the coming days.
In South Carolina, the state Department of Environmental Quality issued an advisory about Legionnaires that was quickly criticized by residents.
Some said it could be harmful to the state’s economy.
“The fact that we’re going to have this much water, and that’s going to be going to South Florida, is just a disaster for our economy, it’s a disaster to our health and it’s just a terrible waste of taxpayer money,” said State Rep. Darryl W. Jones, a Democrat who represents South Carolina’s 6th District, which includes Miami-Fort Lauderdale and is home to many residents with Legionnaires disease.
“I think it’s ridiculous that the government would do this.
It’s just absurd that they would put this on us when we don’t have a problem.”
South Carolina’s health department, which said the state had only one day of regular water supplies, issued a new advisory on Monday advising residents to boil tap water if it is found to contain Legionella, saying that the bacteria can be transmitted to people through water and food.
State health department spokesman Matt McFarland said the department had no plans to open an additional water purifier to allow for more tap water, but it is encouraging people to boil when they suspect they have Legionnaires and has been encouraging people who do not to do so.
McFarland also said that while the department was aware of the health risks posed by Legionnaires, the department did not believe it was an appropriate response.
Wake County Commissioner Chris Loomis said in an interview that he was concerned that the department could have put a higher priority on protecting public health.
He called on the Department of Public Health to investigate whether the Legionella-tainted tap water was safe for residents, and said he was also worried that residents could become ill from Legionnaires in the water they were drinking.
“We have a water problem,” he said.
“We’re not going to wait to go back to a situation where we’re not safe from Legionella.”
Loomis also said he thought it was irresponsible to tell residents that if they had Legionnaires they should boil it.
He said he has heard from residents that have not boiled for more than two minutes but are still advised to boil the water if there is Legionella in the tap water.