Thousands of southern Stafford County residents are encouraged to boil their tap water because of a risk of contamination from a main break Tuesday.
Stafford officials expect the advisory to remain in effect for two to three days as they test the water in accordance with Virginia Department of Health guidelines. Main breaks can lead to contamination by reducing water pressure.
Stafford has found no evidence of contamination, but says it sent the advisory to approximately 13,000 water customers out of an abundance of caution. The affected area stretches from White Oak and Falmouth to just south of Stafford Courthouse.
The advisory also impacts Ferry Farm Elementary, Grafton Village Elementary, Dixon Smith Middle, Conway Elementary, Falmouth Elementary, Drew Middle, Stafford High and the Gari Melchers Complex. Those schools will provide bottled water to students and prepare lunches using boiled or no water. Water fountains have been closed off.
The school system initially did not list the Gary Melchers Complex—which includes Head Start—as being under the boil water advisory. A message to parents said the system learned Wednesday afternoon that the facility off U.S. 17 was in the affected area.
"Although the water issues caused a slight change in the day, students and staff handled it very well," the message stated.
Affected residents can still shower and wash their clothes, but are encouraged to boil water before drinking it. Residents should bring water to a rolling boil and let a boil for one minute, according to the health department.
The Virginia Department of Health provides answers to other frequently asked questions at vdh.virginia.gov/drinking-water/boil-water-faqs.
The broken water main on Enon Road was repaired Tuesday evening. A county spokesman said the age of the pipe, installed in 1980, was the primary factor in the break.
The county reported another main break Wednesday on U.S. 1 near Stafford High School, but said it would not impact water pressure. Crews expected to finish repairs that day.
Residents can check whether their homes fall under the advisory by visiting staffordcounyva.gov.