Don't drink the water.
That was the warning in late spring, but it wasn't given to someone about to embark on an overseas trip. It came from the city of West Palm Beach, which supplies the island with its water.
It also came late — very late, eight days to be specific — after the city found the toxin cylindrospermopsin, which is produced by blue-green algae, in its water supply. Palm Beach officials were furious at the time about the lack of communication, a stance that did not seem to abate until about a month later, when on June 28, West Palm Beach agreed to share its sampling and water test results.
Since then, a new panel, which has some town representatives, also began studying West Palm's water quality.
The incident left a bad taste in the mouths of town officials. So it should not be surprising that the Town Council this month agreed to spend $100,000 on top of its already approved $316,380 for the engineering firm of Kimley-Horn to study the town's water options.
Town Manager Kirk Blouin said the extra funding would pay for information the town needs that goes beyond the scope of the original contract, which looked at the pros and cons of 10 options, including the town developing its own water distribution system and negotiating with another municipality.
Though the 30-year contract with West Palm Beach does not expire until 2029, town officials are smartly looking at their options way in advance.
That said, will the town find out anything that it doesn't already know? It's too early to tell. But such an effort went nowhere the last time the town reviewed its options years ago, mostly because of prohibitive costs.
Even so, we believe that in light of the water debacle earlier this year, the town would be derelict if it didn't look again. At the very least, if officials decide to negotiate a new contract with West Palm, they should insist on a concrete system of checks and balances so Palm Beach cannot be left in the dark again.
Residents should never have to worry again if it is safe to drink the water.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Editorial: In wake of toxin scare, Palm Beach must explore all options for water supply