Equipment malfunction causes high pH levels in Westerly drinking water

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WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health on Tuesday issued a warning to Westerly residents after a treatment equipment failure sent excess chemicals into the water supply.

The health department said Westerly Water Department customers who haven’t used their faucets since Friday should not drink or use the water without flushing it first. Those who have used their faucets have already had the water flushed of the chemicals, health officials said.

According to the health department, the chemicals caused an increased level of pH in the water. Exposure to very high pH levels can result in irritation to the eyes, skin, lips mouth, nasal passages and other mucous membranes. Gastrointestinal irritation may also occur in sensitive individuals. The health department said anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their primary care physician.

The Westerly Water Department has flushed the water system through the pump stations and fire hydrants to address the problem. The health department recommends performing a one-time flush of household faucets for three to five minutes to discharge any water with high pH levels.

Anyone with questions should call the Westerly Water Department at (401) 348-2561.