Bottled water at in downtown Nyack always sells briskly in the summer months, but today's sales are unprecedented.
"We've been selling lots more water than we usually do," explained Chuck Travers, Koblin's store manager. "The gallons have been going first, and then the individual bottles."
The bustling sales have little to do with heat—it is just over 70 degrees—and everything . Yesterday, the Rockland County Health Department issued an alert urging residents to boil any drinking water after finding coliform bacteria in the water supply. If ingested, the bacteria and associated microbes may cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea and/or headaches.
About 15,000 residents draw water from the now-contaminated Nyack Water Department, including residents of Nyack, Central Nyack, South Nyack and portions of West Nyack. The Palisades Center obtains its water from the Nyack Water Department, too, but not Upper Nyack.
The advisory recommends residents bring tap water to a rolling boil for one minute before drinking, and note bottled water should be used for brushing teeth, washing dishes and making ice.
In several public buildings, water fountains have had plastic bags placed over the spurt to deter drinking. And many local restaurants have been hit hard by the advisory; walk down Main Street and one can hear restaurateurs scramble to secure water in bulk. At , owner Kevin O'Donoghue is waiting patiently for a 600-pound ice delivery.
"There might be a struggle for restaurants to get ice," he said. "We'll see."
The earliest the advisory could end is Thursday night. "We'll need at least two clean water samples 24 hours apart," explained Donna Perlitz, who works at the Nyack Water Department in . The first sample was taken yesterday afternoon, she added.
Perlitz noted the last time this occurred was 2003, and phones at the Water Department have been ringing non-stop all day. Several residents are saying they were not properly notified.
"We did the best we could," Perlitz said. The Rockland County Health Department notified all eateries, and the village posted flyers, updated their website and reached out to residents. Perlitz said a reverse-911 phone call system did not work as expected, and some Nyackers did not receive the warning until today.
Salahudin Rahim, a Nyack resident, said the village's poor may be feeling the heaviest burden.
"This is a crisis," he said. "We have people who can't afford bottled water. They're boiling the water, but are afraid to drink it; they don't know if it will be sufficient."
Rahim added that many of the village's poorer residents do not receive social service checks until the start of the month, and have little money left at this point to make due.
For more information, contact Nyack Water at (845) 358-3734.