Update: The city of Tampa has announced on its website that the precautionary boil water notice, put into effect Friday after a power outage at the city's water pumping station, has been lifted.
"Test results confirm that water being provided to customers is safe to consume," the website says.
Stay with TBO for updates.
City officials hope that by the time you read this, the water from your tap will be declared safe to drink.
If no bacteria is found in test samples, "we will lift the precautionary boil notices early Sunday morning," Tampa Water Department Director Brad Baird said Saturday.
Baird said by about 1:30 a.m. today, officials would know the nature of water samples taken from 25 sites throughout the area served by the city. If the samples show no signs of bacteria, he said, the city will begin notifying customers the water is safe to drink.
The precautionary boil notice, which affected more than a half-million people beginning Friday, was the result of a series of problems touched off by a rodent chewing through an electrical wire at the city's water pumping station that morning.
As crews rerouted power to the plant, another line sagged, causing an arc that shorted out a circuit and shut down the pumping station.
The power outage at the David L. Tippin Water Treatment Facility resulted in either temporary low pressure or loss of water service for customers, said Ali Glisson, spokeswoman for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
If bacteria is found in a few of the samples, Baird said, the water department will keep the boil notice in effect in those respective geographic areas.
As of Saturday afternoon, there was no threshold to determine how many positive samples it would take to keep the boil notice in effect throughout the entire system.
If positive samples were found, the boil notice would not be lifted until Monday morning at the earliest.
The ban forced some coffee shops to stop serving, spurred a rush on bottled water and ice at supermarkets and big-box stores, and caused some restaurants to shut down, including Maggiano's Little Italy and P.F. Chang's China Bistro at WestShore Plaza.
One McDonald's restaurant proclaimed it would stay open as long as it could find stores selling bottled soda.
Many restaurants and bars coped by buying ice, bottled water and canned soft drinks.
"We sent a barback to Walmart to get ice and bottled water and he said it was like a hurricane coming, or Armageddon," said Heather Ham, bar manager at The Bad Monkey, an Ybor City bar. "Everyone was freaking out and trying to get all the water," she said.
Saturday's Gasparilla Distance Classic events — the 5K and 15K races — went off with no significant hitches.
Race organizers used bottled water, rather than tap water, to mix Gatorade for the nearly 20,000 participants.
Today's 8K and half-marathon will take place as planned.
"We had absolutely no problems at all with the water," said Susan Harmeling, the event's executive director.
By Saturday afternoon, the Oxford Exchange, a trendy restaurant on Kennedy Boulevard, was packed.
One diner, a lifelong South Tampa resident, said she was not fazed by the water problems.
"My husband buys a lot of bottled water, by the gallons," said Cynthia Stevenson, who was having tea with her daughter, Karla Stevenson.
"We have been brushing our teeth with purified water and even letting the dog drink purified water."
Cynthia Stevenson said going two days without being able to use tap water was a first for her.
"I have lived in Tampa my whole life," said the 74-year-old. "Even during hurricanes I haven't seen anything like this."
The city buzzing about a potential lack of safe drinking water is a reminder of the value of water, said Karla Stevenson, 31, a University of Tampa adjunct professor and environmental communications specialist.
"People make jokes about all this," she said, "but much of the world does not have access to clean water."