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After a Two Week Forced Closure, Miami Health Officials
 Now Confident the Epic Hotel's Water Is Safe

By Diana Moskovitz, The Miami HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

December 27, 2009 --The water at the Epic Hotel was cleared for everyday use on Saturday, two weeks after the luxury location was forced to relocate guests due to possible bacteria in the water.

The health advisory began earlier this month after three cases of Legionnaires' disease -- including one death -- were found among people who had stayed at the hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way.

The health investigation also discovered that the hotel's filtration system may have been stripping chlorine out of its water, making it susceptible to waterborne diseases such as legionella.

However, Miami-Dade County Health Department officials on Saturday continued to say they couldn't be certain that Epic was the cause because their investigation wasn't complete.

After the discovery, the hotel went through a series of processes to remove any contamination, steps which were described on Saturday by Dr. Samir Elmir, the health department's director of environmental health and engineering.

The suspect filtration system was disconnected, and chlorinated county water was allowed to flow in. Extra large doses of chlorine were sent through the system to kill bacteria in a process called "super chlorination."

Shower fixtures were removed and sanitized.

And a new system using copper-silver ionization was installed as an extra safeguard to disinfect the water and prevent the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease.

On Saturday, health officials said they were confident that the hotel's water was safe.

"We will continue to work with them to make sure the water supply is safe," said Lillian Rivera, administrator with the Miami-Dade County Health Department.

During the advisory, the hotel relocated its guests and did not accept new reservations, Epic spokesman Bruce Rubin said.

"We are pleased that the hotel is now receiving guests," Rubin said on Saturday.

People get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor that has been contaminated with the bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The bacteria are not spread from person to person.

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Copyright (c) 2009, The Miami Herald

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