Update 10:42 p.m., Thursday:
Darien Health Director David Knauf posted the following announcement on Darien Patch:
"Representatives of Aquarion Water Company reported this morning that the demand is back to normal levels and the discoloration situation has subsided considerably.
"The discoloration is now only limited to few dead end streets in Darien and they are working with the affected customers to have the water flushed out.
"The preliminary results of the samples collected yesterday from Darien, New Canaan & Stamford showed no coliform bacteria, which is good news according to State Health Department officials."
Update 8:19 p.m., Wednesday:
Aquarion Water Co., echoing comments repeatedly made by Darien Health Director David Knauf, says today's water discoloration in Darien should not be considered a danger to anyone's health.
Minutes ago, the company issued the following news release about the water discoloration problem—at just about the time when it's supposed to go away:
"Aquarion Water Company today announced that customers in Darien, New Canaan and Stamford may experience discolored water or low pressure due to excessive water demand as a result of the current heat wave.
"It is important to note that no compromise to the safety and integrity of the supply system has occurred. The discoloration is similar to what happens when the distribution lines are flushed.
"Testing performed today has been reviewed by the state health department and they have determined that results showed adequate levels of chlorine to protect public health.
"Residents are asked to reduce their water usage until the system clears, since it may cause discoloration of laundry and is not aesthetically pleasing.
"This discoloration results from the temporary disturbance of the water flow, which stirs up naturally occurring minerals, such as iron and manganese.
"Aquarion expects water demand to return to normal levels when temperatures cool this evening. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service at 1-800-732-9678.
Update 5:17 p.m.:
Water testing has shown "adequate levels of chlorine" in the water, Darien town officials havejust announced.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson has just released this statement, quoting town Health Director David Knauf with information on chlorine testing:
"Today, residents in Stamford, Darien and New Canaan are experiencing or have experienced a discoloration of our water supply as a result of high demand and weather related conditions. The statement below has been passed on to me from our Health Director, David Knauf and the State Department of Health.
"'Today residents have raised concerns about the discolored water noted in Darien. It is important to note that no compromise to the safety and integrity of the supply system has occurred. The discoloration is similar to what happens when the service lines are flushed. Testing performed today showed adequate levels of chlorine to protect public health. Residents are asked to reduce their water usage until the system clears.'"
Selectman David Campbell said town officials did not send out a "Code Red" mass telephone call to town residents because other agencies handle those calls for drinking-water-related situations. One town resident said a call came to his phone from Aquarion.
A second call has been made to the state Department of Public Health, three hours after the first request for information from that department. William Gerrish, director of communications for the department said he would try to get answers to questions about the situation.
Update 2:06 p.m.:
Darien Health Director David Knauf said state Health Department officials are telling him they are not warning people to avoid drinking discolored water.
"At this point, we have no information that says the water is unsafe," Knauf said. Discolored water has been seen by some residents of Darien, New Canaan and Stamford, according ot Aquarion Water Co., which supplies drinking water to all three communities.
Higher than usual usage of water has stirred up mineral sediments in the pipes, according to Aquarion, causing discoloration and low water pressure for some customers. Aquarion has suggested that residents not use discolored water but has not said there is a negative health effect from it for most people.
Peter Fazekas has said residents should not drink discolored water, but has not said it's unhealthy. He said it may be unhealthy for some people but he had no further information on that.
Knauf said that with lots of water flowing through the system, chlorine is normally checked to make sure the right amount of it is in the water. "I'm certain they're monitoring the chlorine," he said.
Knauf said he was puzzled that Aquarion didn't ask residents to cut down on water usage today. He said it seemed to be a good idea not to water lawns, pools or gardens or otherwise use water unnecessarily.
A message was left for Selectman David Campbell at 12:20 p.m., but Darien Patch has been unable to reach him.
A request for information has been made to a spokeswoman at the state Department of Health.
Update 12:53 p.m.:
If your water is clear rather than discolored today, it's fine to use, even in Darien, Stamford and New Canaan where parts of town are experiencing discoloration and low pressure, said a spokesman for Aquarion Water Co.
Aquarion is not recommending that residents cut back on their water usage—even though the utility has described the situation as an "emergency"—because it expects people to cut back anyway, said the spokesman, Peter Fazekas.
Referring to the idea that the utility ask for a cutback in usage today, Fazekas said, "I don't think it's going to have a big impact. People are not drinking it, so demand is going to go down."
Rain expected today and this evening should also produce a cutback in watering of lawns, he said, just as thunder could be heard in Darien.
The unrelated water main break in Stamford occurred near the Aquarion plant at 149 Lakeside Dr., he said.
According to Aquarion's records, Fazekas said, the first complaint about discolored water came to the utility at about 6:30 a.m.
"At that point, we thought it was an isolated incident," he said. "We sent folks out to investigate it, thinking there might be a possible water main break." That turned out not to be the case, he said.
Asked if the low water pressure in some parts of the three municipalities created a danger if firefighters needed water to pour on fires, Fazekas said he would check into the matter.
Minutes later he called to say, "Fire protection hasn't been compromised in any way."
Update 12:38 p.m.:
Here is a quotation from Aquarion Water Co. spokesman Peter Fazekas, from the same interview as the previous update:
"Some customers in Darien, New Canaan and Stamford may be experiencing discolored water or low pressure due to the excessive water usage as a result of the current heat wave.
"Customers should not use the water until it's clear.
"We expect the water demand to return to normal levels when the temperature cools this evening."
Update 12:15 p.m.:
Aquarion Water Co. spokesman Peter Fazekas said water pressure in Darien, Stamford and New Canaan is down due to unusually high demand.
The high demand is also causing more water to flow through the pipes, stirring up natural minerals that normally settle in those pipes.
Residents with discolored water should not drink it, he said. Asked if the discolored water is unhealthy, he said that may be the case for some individuals.
Although Aquarion's recording on its customer service line is calling the situation an "emergency," the company is not asking residents to curb water use, spokesman Peter Fazekas said.
"We're not making that recommendation," he said.
The "excessive usage" is likely coming from residents watering their lawns more and possibly even from adding more water to swimming pools, Fazekas said.
Aquarion crews are working on a water main break in Stamford, near the utility's water plant there, but that is completely unrelated to the color in the water or the low pressure, Fazekas said.
Selectman David Campbell, filling in for First Selectman Jayme Stevenson this week, told the Darien Times it was difficult to get information from Aquarion as the town government was preparing a Reverse 911 telephone alert to town residents about the problem.
Customers who want more information from Aquarion may call the customer service line at 1-800-932-9678, Fazekas said.
Aquarion Water Company customers in Darien and New Canaan are being advised not to use discolored water as the company deals with an "emergency" of some sort, according to Aquarion's customer service line.
Telephone calls to a spokesman for the water utility were not immediately returned.
The recording on the customer service line refers to a water "emergency" in Darien and New Canaan, with customers getting discolored water or low pressure.
"We're aware of the problem and are working to correct it," the recording states. Then it suggests that customers not use discolored water until the problem is cleared up.