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Palm Coast Water Tower Isolated From System After Break-In; Security Questions Pending

| May 17, 2011

The water tower contains half a million gallons of water. It is oen of six storage facilities in the city. (© FlaglerLive)

The water tower contains half a million gallons of water. It is oen of six storage facilities in the city. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 6:07 p.m.

The Palm Coast water tower–one of the city’s most visible icons, just south of Palm Coast Parkway and west of I-95–was cut off from the rest of the city’s water system this morning (May 17) after city workers discovered a break-in at the facility sometime after 9 a.m.

Water from the 500,000-gallon tower was isolated from the rest of the system as a precaution, Palm Coast Utilities Director Richard Adams said Tuesday afternoon.

“We have no reason to believe that there’s any problem with the drinking water,” Adams said. “We’re running a battery of tests to make sure the water in the tank is safe.” So far, what tests the city itself has conducted have raised no issues. Many tests will be conducted by an independent lab. Some results from those tests are not expected until the end of this week, some until the end of next week.

“It’s not a question of putting a piece of litmus paper in there to see if it turns blue,” Frank Meeker, an environmental specialist at the St. Johns River Water Management District and a Palm Coast City Council member, said after being briefed on the break-in Tuesday afternoon.

“The utility has contacted all the agencies and we are pursuing this with all due diligence to make sure there’s absolutely no issue with our water supply,” Adams said. “We have gone out to check all of our facilities to make sure there’s been no other incident and we have found none yet.”

Even though the water tower has been isolated from the rest of the system, there is neither a water-supply nor a water-pressure issue, Adams said. The tower is one of six storage facilities. The Palm Coast water utility pumps out 7 to 8 million gallons of water per day. Last week, for example, demand in the city was 8.55 million gallons. The shut-off from the tower is not expected to affect water delivery.

Nor are residents being advised to change their habits–or worry about drinking tap water. If water did leave the water tower at any point after the break in, the amounts would have been very small, Adams said.

The main door to the tower was damaged and forced open, the sheriff”s office reported, and a green garden hose was found hanging about 50 feet above ground.

The blue latch is to an access tube and ladder; the silver latch is to an air vent with direct access to the water. Both were found open Tuesday morning. Click on the image for larger view. (Flagler County Fire Department).

Flagler County’s Fire Flight helicopter flew over the water tower after the break-in was discovered and took photographs, which show that two latches were open. The blue latch leads to an inner tube and ladder that runs the length of the 165-foot tower from the ground up. It appears that the person who broke in (or the persons) climbed that ladder and may have had a beer at the top. A beer can was found inside the fenced area around the water tower. That fence, 6 foot high and topped with barbed wire, was somehow scaled. Of more concern is the second latch that was found open at the top–the latch to an air vent into the water tank itself, with direct access to the water. But it would be pure speculation, Adams said, to suggest that the water was compromised through that vent. Still, the city is taking all precautions.

Immediately after discovering the break-in, the city called what’s called the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Warning Point, which serves as the contact point for communications between local Governments and Emergency Agencies, State Government Agencies and the Federal Government. The Division of Environmental protection was also notified. So far, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation from a law enforcement perspective.

The city will conduct a post-incident evaluation and determine whether and how security would be beefed up, Adams said.

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20 Responses for “Palm Coast Water Tower Isolated From System After Break-In; Security Questions Pending”

  1. PCadiron says:

    Looks like more than just our parks need security cameras.

  2. Outsider says:

    Kind of makes you wonder what he did with the beer when he was “done” with it.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    Not only surveillance cameras but also an alarm system connected to the sheriff dept, and fire department should be installed on this water supply stations/towers in order to safeguard the consumers health. I am glad to know that the water supply from the vandalized tower has been stopped..
    My appreciation to the Palm Coast Utility for the quick response. Unbelievable that these punks do not have anything better to do. Please all help to catch them…probably plenty of DNA on the beer cans as well as finger prints around, to help trace them.

  4. Allison Burnett Pineda says:

    And we are still drinking it?!!!? What if it was tampered with??????

  5. Jenn Carleton says:

    Oh I am not going to panic. I am gonna freak! Wth? Must be the folks in Bunnell that Flagler County refuses to service for water. Jus’ Sayin’ So glad I am moving out of here in 2 weeks! This place just can’t get their shiz* together. Well, do the math. Everyone thinks it is “so safe” but it is going to hell in a hand basket.

  6. Fred Peterson says:

    Maybe has to do with that big payback the City has with Grand Haven over charging them for water when They weren’t supposed to

  7. Diarmuid Connolly says:

    This is why I dont drink water at all :)

  8. Jackie M Kunkel says:

    @Allison…i know we had coffee all thru the day and refilled pet bowls and i didnt see this story till 5pm!!! Why dont they call us like reverse 911 does?

  9. Mario DiGirolamo says:

    Not feeling really comfortable about what’s been released so far. I’m thinking we’re not being told the whole story.

  10. Rebecca Fiedler OShane says:

    Relax people, it was just the Animaniacs!

  11. Gwen Barath says:


  12. LOL says:

    Well Jenn good luck on your crime free island where the population will be one person. Oh and maybe Bigfoot.

  13. palmcoaster says:

    Rethinking my advise of yesterday….and remembering that our Sheriff services are very expensive to Palm Coast and they charge us premium fees for any additional service requested .I would say that the alarm system to be connected to all our water holding supplies wether this tower or any of the other six should be connected directly to the closest fire department units and that are many and probably closer to the sites than any Sheriff station. Also the alarm services will only cost us the equipment that can include video surveillance than nowadays can be monitored from the PC’s in the city and the fire departments as well at no cost, just the “fiber optic cable connection that we are supposed to own” As a matter of fact all our parks installations should have a system of video surveillance connected to a digital recorder for admissible evidence in court, when vandals are caught and made paid repairs. These systems today offer vandal proof cameras with digital weeks of recording and USB downloading capabilities as well as pc monitoring networking and will paid themselves many times over by being a deterrent.

  14. AnotherReader says:

    Allison, Jenn, Jackie: didn’t you read the story…the supply from the tower has been turned off. Nothing to worry about. Do you really think that our city is so bad that they would allow us to drink tainted water. If you do, I feel sorry for all of you. Jenn, good luck in your move but know that wherever you go there will be some type of probem. No place is utopia.

    I am satisfied that the authorities and the others who will investigate this will do a fine job. This is an eye opener for our community, we all are vunerable to terrorist acts (not saying this was one) and need to be vigilant. New security measures must be put in place so something like this will not happen again.

  15. LOL says:

    Palmcoaster, You’re kidding right? Expensive services? That’s laughable. They should be charging more for the level of service. Perhaps this will start the “Palm Coast should get their own police dept” debate again. Have at it. Get some facts as to start up cost and annual budgets and see where it gets you. Oh wait…the city has done it’s homework and that is why there is no Palm Coast police dept. Can not be done anywhere close to the same budget they are giving the Sheriff’s Office. Palm Coast gets more than what they are paying for from the S.O. and they know it.

    As far as surveilance on the tower..No cost? How about the purchase of equipment, upkeep of equipment and the salary of the person tasked with monitoring it? In case you haven’t heard, more budgets cuts are happening and some more public sector employees are at risk of losing their jobs.

  16. Capt C says:

    Here’s an idea thats cheap. Put 2 pitbulls in the fenced area. Give them a dog house and food, water and have the sheriff dept stop by everyday and check on them. Also, drink more coffee and cola.

  17. palmcoaster says:

    Lol, I never said or suggested that Palm Coast needs or should have their own police department. Don’t start the old useless wars.
    But that our Sheriff services are at pretty high cost I stand by it! I lost the count of how many millions additional the City of Palm Coast pays currently for it, taking in consideration that our county taxes already subsidizes our law enforcement an maybe one of the reasons why our county taxes are double of our city taxes that instead provides us all our services, except law enforcement.
    I agree for one with you, that in the last few years I have seeing and improvement in the Sheriff services to Palm Coast. We do not need a Palm Coast Police Dept…specially now with less residents in this county due to the lack of jobs, What we need is that all public service departments including our current law enforcement tighten their belts and avoid frivolous spending, the same way the taxpayers endure in their depressed incomes.
    I still believe that an alarm and video surveillance system installed by our utilities or public city workers connected to the closest fire stations and monitored as well by the current utility employees PC connections is the less expensive approach and most effective for this need. This will allow to call our sheriff department only when a break in took place and just for the investigation and not before, as just one more crime call and half way resolved by the digital video surveillance documentation. No costly rocket science needed.

  18. Paul E. Medford says:

    Come on Palm Coast! A private citizen can buy a 4 camera security system for their house that records anytime there is motion, for under $600. For $600, you could have had pictures and a movie of the creep.

    Who’s watching the store over there? Who, besides city employees, has access to our facilities? Are our employees background checked? Contractors checked?

    Paul E. Medford
    Palm Coast

  19. LOL says:

    Palmcoaster, You forget “how many millions”? 2.2 million. Check comparable cities with law enforcement services provided by their county and check the cost. I am sure you’ll be surprised.

  20. sean davis says:

    Wonder what the garden hose was for?

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