A 36-inch water main broke in Virginia early Friday, buckling a roadway and causing major disruptions to traffic, school schedules and morning routines in parts of D.C. and Virginia into the weekend.
After about 48 hours, things returned back to normal as a boil water advisory was lifted and Glebe Road in Arlington was reopened to traffic.
The boil water advisory in effect for parts of Arlington County and Upper Northwest D.C. was lifted Sunday after tests showed the drinking water is safe, officials said.
"The entire Arlington water area meets all EPA standards and water may be used for all purposes," officials said on Twitter. The order was lifted more than 48 hours after it was issued.
Water taps may appear cloudy at first, so let your tap run for a few minutes until it's clear before use.
The loss of water pressure that occurred after the main broke could allow bacteria into the pipes in parts of Northwest D.C. and Arlington, officials said.
Water samples underwent laboratory testing Friday, and a second round of samples was taken Saturday. DC Water customers in a significant area of Upper Northwest, west of Rock Creek Park, were advised to boil their water.
The first round of sampling did not indicate any contamination, DC Water said. Staff will begin a second round of testing, which is expected to be complete Sunday. The advisory will be lifted if the second samples come back "all clear," DC Water said.
“The problem is our water supply is all interconnected, so when the pipe broke in Arlington sometime in the middle of the night, it resulted in a drop of pressure that we experienced here at our pump in Fort Reno,” Vincent Morris of DC Water said.
With DC Water’s technology, they instantly found out when the pressure dropped early Friday morning, Morris said. Customers didn’t get an alert at about a boil water advisory until a couple hours later because DC Water wanted to make sure it was necessary.
“We were trying to determine if the water pressure dropped, if the water pressure dropped enough to warrant to justify a boil water alert, and it’s a large inconvenience,” Morris said.
D.C.'s health department is working with restaurants affected by the advisory, the mayor's office said.
Residents were told to boil tap water for one to three minutes, then allow it to cool before consuming in any way, including for brushing teeth, making ice and feeding pets. Any beverages and ice made up to eight hours before the advisory should be discarded.
A home filter device is not a good substitute for boiling water, DC Water says.
"The lack of pressure made it possible for bacteria or other disease-causing organisms to enter the water through cracks, breaks or joints in the distribution system," DC Water said in a statement.
There was no confirmation that contamination had occurred.
The Arlington Department of Environmental Services said they issued an advisory early Friday out of an abundance of caution.
Arlington Public Schools were closed Friday because of the water service issues.
The water break, near Glebe and Chain Bridge Roads, is fully stabilized. All roads are expected to reopen Sunday afternoon, officials say.
But more repair work will be needed later in the week.
The powerful break sent water gushing through a section of roadway at Chain Bridge and Glebe roads, closing a major thoroughfare connecting D.C. and Northern Virginia. Video from the scene showed water gushing from the damaged pavement. Debris was strewn across the roadway.
Expect closures in the area of Chain Bridge Road and Glebe Road. Chain Bridge reopened after hours and part of Chain Bridge Road partially reopened.
This closure is expected to have lasting impacts. Avoid the area if you can.
The water main that broke was 36 inches wide. For comparison, most neighborhood water mains are 8 to 12 inches wide, Arlington County Department of Environmental Services Spokesman Peter Golkin told NBC4 news partner WTOP.
“This is one of the key points that feeds the system,” said Golkin told WTOP.
The D.C. water system is interconnected with the one in Arlington. The large break pulled water out of D.C.'s system, which was the reason for low pressure in the District.
Some restaurants in Northwest D.C. closed Friday because of the boil water advisory. Restaurants staying open took extra precautions.
Diners at Cactus Cantina had bottled water with their lunch. Owner Jaime Sanchez says they have an action plan in place whenever there is a boil water advisory.
“We stop our ice machine, throw the ice away,” he said. “The chef boils all the water that we use or any for cleaning any vegetables or anything like that, and then we just get bottled water. We get freshwater.”
Even though they had to throw out all the ice, their frozen margaritas are OK for the weekend.
“We made them yesterday,” Sanchez said. “We usually make some pretty big tanks, which are good for today and tomorrow.”
Sanchez said he’s OK with taking extra steps at his restaurant just to make sure his customers stay healthy.
A man who lives in the area, Fabian Sanz, said he wished he could’ve grabbed gallon water bottles but the grocery store nearby was all out.
This is a developing story. Stay with News4 for the latest.