White House Water ‘Unfit’ for Few Hours

From Times Wire Services

The White House posted “Don’t Drink The Water” signs today after a monitoring system showed that chlorine levels had dropped and that the water in the sprawling presidential complex was unfit for humans.

The system may have given a false alarm, spokesman Larry Speakes told reporters, but he said tests were being conducted at the National Bureau of Standards and a U.S. Army chemical weapons center.

Secret Service technicians also took samples of the water, and taps in the White House residence were turned off as a precautionary measure.

“The President had his coffee this morning from bottled water,” Speakes said.

Speakes said an alarm went off shortly after 7 a.m. that “indicated there was no chlorine in the water” piped in from a city main.

Flow Resumes at Noon

At noon, he told reporters that preliminary tests by chemists indicated that “it’s all right to drink the water now” and taps flowed again in the White House.

“We don’t have an explanation why the alarm went off,” he said, or final results of lab tests.

Until noon, drinking fountains in the White House west wing, where Reagan, his aides and journalists work, were plastered with signs warning against their use--on a day when temperatures in Washington were climbing into the mid-90s.

Speakes said the Secret Service had “no evidence of any problem.”

He said that water coming into the Old Executive Office Building next door was safe, according to monitoring equipment, and that after an initial showing that purification levels had dropped, the White House gauges were also giving normal readings.