A Tennessee city can drink its tap water again, a week after a fuel spill tainted its supply

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee city told its 40,000 residents Thursday that they can drink their tap water again, a week after they were ordered to stay away after diesel fuel spilled into a reservoir at a treatment plant and tainted the Memphis suburb’s supply.

Officials in Germantown said those who live and work in the city must flush their plumbing systems before they can resume the normal use of the water that flows into their homes and businesses. The order to avoid using city water forced residents to drink bottled water and seek other places to shower and clean their dishes.

The city said July 20 that the diesel fuel spill at a treatment plant contaminated the water supply system. The order came after residents reported a fuel smell in their water. A generator being used at the plant because the facility lost power during recent storms spilled the diesel fuel into a reservoir, officials said.

As a result, people were told to stop using water for everything except flushing toilets. They couldn’t drink or boil tap water or use it for showering or bathing. The city had been distributing free bottled water.

Sections of Germantown already had been allowed to resume using water before the general all-clear was delivered Thursday afternoon. There have been no reports from officials about people getting sick.

On Tuesday evening, officials said tests at the plant showed water there was clear of contamination and the city would continue testing the water and begin flushing the city’s system.

Frustrated residents have taken to social media to complain about the problems and request a town hall meeting. An environmental group has questioned Germantown’s decision to put a diesel fuel tank on top of the reservoir.

Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo has apologized for the disruption to the daily lives of the mostly affluent suburb’s residents.

About 100 gallons of diesel contaminated about 4.2 million gallons of water that was held at the plant, officials have said.

A city consultant had discovered contamination in soil immediately surrounding a pipe carrying clean water from the treatment plant into the underground reservoir. A breach in the pipe was found and fixed, and the contaminated soil was removed, Public Works Director Bo Mills said Tuesday.

Contaminated water from the fuel spill has been pumped into the Wolf River through stormwater ditches, but officials say that won’t seriously harm the river.

Germantown is located east of Memphis.

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