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Boston Struggles With Bottled Water Shortage

BOSTON -- Bottled water manufacturers stepped up production Sunday as they rushed to supply the greater Boston area, following a major break in a pipe that pumps drinkable water to residents. But deliveries were hampered by a shortage of drivers, who typically do not work on Sundays, according to a report by The Boston Globe.

"We have plenty of water. Finding fleet resources to get the product we need into MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) has been the challenge ... We're really scrambling," said Larry Gillis of Nestle Waters North America, which bottles Poland Spring water and has a factory in Framingham, Mass.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is also working with Belmont Springs and CPF Inc. of Ayer, to get water to those most in need, Peter Judge, a spokesman for the state agency, told the newspaper. He said each company has committed to providing about a million gallons a day for the duration of the crisis.

Thirty Massachusetts communities and more than 2 million residents are under notice from the state to boil water for at least a minute before drinking it or cooking with it. As a result, many are trying to buy as much bottled water as possible, with some venturing into neighboring towns to do so, according to the report.

Police were called to a BJ's Wholesale Club in Revere Saturday after shoppers started pushing and shoving in their rush to buy water. All four BJ's clubs in the affected area -- in Quincy, Medford, Stoneham and Revere -- were sold out by early Sunday afternoon.

The shelves were also bare at a Stop & Shop in Dorchester by 10:45 a.m. Sunday, with boxes of Evian empty, even though the store had received two emergency shipments that morning. Just up the street, a Shaw's supermarket had stacked cases of water near the door, and workers were limiting customers to no more than four cases. In Braintree, which is not under a boil-water notice, residents from nearby Quincy were on the hunt for water.

As customers emptied shelves, suppliers worked overtime, pumping up production at regional bottling facilities and coordinating deliveries. Ralph D. Crowley Jr., head of Polar Beverages in Worcester, said the company emptied out its plant in the city last night and trucked in loads of water from its New York facility.
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