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Water flow restored day after pipe break

An inconvenience becomes a lesson for some preschoolers, and Tarpon Avenue area residents are urged to boil their water until it can be tested.

Published February 14, 2004

TARPON SPRINGS - Water service was restored about noon Friday to some 1,200 Tarpon Springs residents who lost service Thursday morning when a 20-inch pipe burst beneath Levis Avenue.

While the taps are now back at full pressure, folks near Tarpon Avenue are advised to boil their water until it can be tested for purity in Pinellas County. That testing, said Public Services administrator Paul Smith, might not be finished until the middle of next week.

Smith said a joint separation in the 30-year-old water line caused the leak.

The precautionary boil-water advisory area extends three blocks north and south along Tarpon Avenue from U.S. 19 to Alt. U.S. 19.

What was a big pain in the neck for most residents was an adventurous learning experience for more than 50 preschool kids at the R'Club Day Care Center on Lemon Street.

The uniquely challenging job of caring for a school full of 2- to 5-year-olds was made even more exciting when the center's director, Teresa Gadson, was notified Thursday afternoon that the water was off.

She left her meeting and stopped by Albertsons on her way back to the center and bought 10 gallons of water. She also sent a note home to parents explaining the situation and asking them to bring water for their youngsters when they dropped them off Friday morning.

"The parents were so cooperative," Gadson said. "They were just wonderful."

The children showed up Friday morning - water bottles in hand. One parent, she said, brought in three 30-gallon cans for the staff to fill from the center's irrigation system. That water was used for flushing the toilets.

"It was a little scary for me," Gadson added, "but this showed me how much faith the parents have in us ... to drop off their kids, knowing we didn't have any water."

For the children, the ordeal was just another form of entertainment she said.

"We're big on hand-washing here," Gadson said, adding that her staff brought in waterless hand sanitizers for workers and children. "We used it as a learning experience, teaching them the importance of water in our daily lives."

Water service was restored about 2 p.m. Friday, she said. And the youngsters weren't the only ones who learned something from the experience. Gadson said they plan on storing the extra water for use if service is ever interrupted again.

"We plan for hurricanes," she said. "But (not for) a break in the water line - right out of the clear, blue sky."

[Last modified February 14, 2004, 01:31:45]

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