Boil water order is lifted for 2M in Boston area

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick lifted a boil water order Tuesday morning for 2 million people in Boston area who were told their tap water could be unsafe after a crucial water main failed over the weekend.

Authorities said tests showed the water in 29 communities is now safe for drinking. Saugus is still under the order, pending test results expected early Tuesday.

Patrick had issued the order Saturday the 10-foot-wide pipe in Weston failed. Crews raced to repair the pipe, and authorities had been waiting for the results of water quality tests before lifting the order.

The breach forced the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to use a backup system. Residents were told to use bottled water or boil tap water for a minute before using it to drink, cook or brush their teeth.

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed an emergency disaster declaration authorizing federal agencies to coordinate relief efforts with local authorities.

State officials said they are determined to find out what caused the failure of a seven-year-old pipe. Portions of the pipe washed into the Charles River and need to be recovered, Patrick said.

He said the blowout helps justify his administration's decision to push ahead on construction of a second, redundant water delivery system to help prevent another interruption of service.

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo, whose hometown of Winthrop was under the boil water order, said he's anxious to make sure that ratepayers aren't left holding the repair bill.

Residents did their best to cope with the inconvenience, stocking up on bottled water and paper plates to avoid having to boil water to wash dishes.

At Fenway Park, where the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 17-8 Monday night, water fountains were turned off and signs posted around the ballpark reminded fans of the order. The Red Sox brought in ice from Rhode Island for the clubhouse.

Concession stands were selling bottled soft drinks instead of fountain mixes, and beer service wasn't affected.