FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Tens of thousands of residents in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding cities were warned early Thursday to brace for a prolonged water outage, after a private contractor hit a water main during construction.
City officials said customers could be without water -- and thus, without working toilets -- for the next 24 to 36 hours. Early Thursday, water was still flowing from city reserves. But taps could run dry within hours.
The outage will impact Fort Lauderdale -- hospitals, hotels, courthouses, the jail, high-rises, restaurants, employees and homeowners -- as well as customers in other cities.
The largest provider of drinking water in the county, Fort Lauderdale serves residents and businesses in all or parts of Port Everglades, Oakland Park, Davie, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Sea Ranch Lakes, Tamarac and Wilton Manors.
The outage was the largest in recent history. Fort Lauderdale's water and sewer system is aging and has suffered numerous pipe breaks in recent years, but it's rare for an outage to cut off service citywide and beyond.
Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis on Thursday morning and offered assistance. The state is sending two semi-trucks of water to help.
A contractor doing work near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport damaged a 42-inch water main that supplies raw water from the city's wellfields in to the Fiveash Regional Water Treatment Plant.
The location of the water main break is on the 2500 block of Northwest 55th Court, just off the runways at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
City spokesman Chaz Adams did not identify the private contractor but said it was not related to work at Lockhart Stadium next to FXE airport.
Taciana Faria, 27, Coral Springs, works at Airtrade Aviation, 2535 NW 55th Court, which is right next to the water main that ruptured about 2 p.m. Wednesday.