Cape Cod’s Provincetown declares sewer emergency: ‘Only flush when absolutely necessary’

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Provincetown, Massachusetts, has declared a sewer emergency for a large section of the downtown area and residents have been warned about potential overflows.

People in the affected area “must reduce water use, including dishwashing, laundry, showering, and only flush when absolutely necessary,” the town says.

Restaurants and bars have been ordered to close until the orders lift. The town estimates that repair teams will need up to 48 hours to make necessary and urgent repairs.

The sewer issues started on Tuesday after thunderstorms rolled through the area, causing electrical issues in a central sewer facility, Town Manager Alex Morse said on Facebook.

The National Weather Service reports that over an inch of rain fell in the Provincetown area on Tuesday as thunderstorms hit southern New England.

The issues are only affecting the area connected to the vacuum sewer system. Other connections to the sewer system and properties with septic tanks are unaffected.

Initially, crews had managed to get the system back up and running after Tuesday’s storms, Mr Morse said. But on Wednesday night, he noted that there was still work that needed to be done because of “larger than normal wastewater volume sent into the sewer system.”

“We need to drastically reduce flow to allow the critical repair work in order to get the town back to full capacity,” the town said on Thursday.

In addition to restaurants and other food-service businesses, Provincetown has closed its public restrooms and has brought in 18 portable toilets.

Mr Morse told the Boston Globe that repairs should be completed before the town’s Carnival Week, an annual summer celebration scheduled to begin on 18 August.

Provincetown sits along the tip of Cape Cod, which stretches out from the very end of Massachusetts. The town and the rest of the cape are popular among summer visitors who frequent beaches along the extensive coast.