PROVINCETOWN, Mass. — Restaurants were told to cease operations immediately, public restrooms closed, and residents were ordered to limit water use after a Cape Cod town declared a sewer emergency, officials announced Thursday.
The emergency impacts all businesses and homes on Provincetown’s vacuum sewer system, including properties on Commercial Street from Snow Street to Point Street, and properties on the sewer system on Bradford Street between Conwell Street and Prince Street, according to the town.
“When I come to town the parking lot was half — totally empty,” said Vera Rodrigues who owns a jewelry shop on Commercial Street.
And fewer people had a direct impact on business.
“It’s very Slow — a big difference from yesterday,” Rodrigues said.
In a statement, town officials said, “Any restaurant or food service business in this service area will need to cease operations immediately. This is necessary to prevent a further public health emergency caused by sewer overflows, and we need to drastically reduce flow to allow the critical repair work in order to get the town back to full capacity.”
“So when I got the text this morning I was like whoa — wow,” said Mark Mitchell who owns Perfect Picnic P-town.
Fortunately, Mitchell’s prepared food store — one of the few food stores allowed to be open — actually did well though he feels his neighbor’s pain.
“I mean we did do pretty well, but it’s hard to feel good about that when I know my friends around can’t be open,” said Mitchell.
However, the closure of restaurants and bars impacted more than tourist spots and tourists. Wayne Michael DJ’s at the A-House. The shutdown means he can’t work.
“Well I’m out of work tonight, we’ll just have to wait and see when everything gets fixed,” said Michael.
Residents must also drastically reduce water use, including dishwashing, laundry, showering, and only flush when absolutely necessary, town officials added.
All public restrooms have been closed and 18 porta-o-potties were placed on Ryder Street near Provincetown Town Hall.
The emergency does not apply to sewer customers that are on Provincetown’s gravity system, nor does it apply to properties with on-site septic systems, Town Manager Alex Morse said.
“I will say the restrictions are already making a difference we are making good progress today less people are in town. Less people are putting a strain on the system,” said Morse.
Repairs on the system are expected to take up to 48 hours.
Morse also shared a list of addresses that are required to reduce water use.
The incident comes just days before Provincetown’s Carnival summer celebration. The weeklong festival typically attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the world.
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