PROVINCETOWN, MASS. (WHDH) - The town of Provincetown has declared a “sewer emergency” in its main commercial area, banning nearly all water use for the next 48 hours.

“We came here to, you know, have a casual, good laid back time, and unfortunately, most of the restaurants and shops are closed,” said tourist Ryan Cullen. “Not getting to try the taste of the area as much as we would have liked to.”

In this time, all restaurants in the area have to “cease operations immediately” to prevent sewer overflows. Residential properties in the area of Commercial Street from Snow Street to Point Street and properties on Bradford Street between Conwell Street and Prince Street will also need to reduce water use. This includes dishwashing, laundry, showering “and only flush when necessary,” the town said in an update.

“It’s a massive financial loss for us,” said restaurant owner Guillermo Yingling. “Today will really hurt. Tomorrow will be the difference between being profitable this season and not.”

Yingling’s Spiritus Pizza shop can stay open because it uses a septic system. However, his other Provincetown restaurants closed because customers could not flush the toilets and workers are not allowed to wash their hands.

All public restrooms are closed during the emergency, but 18 port-a-potties will be placed on Ryder Street near Town Hall at 11 a.m. Thursday.

“There would be wastewater and sewage coming up in people’s bathtubs or toilets if we didn’t address it, so we have to be proactive,” said Provincetown Town Manager Alex Morse.

According to town officials, Tuesday’s rain storm caused electrical damage to the sewer system servicing Commercial Street. Engineers said that in order to make the repairs, they have to lower the level of waste water in the system.

“Today was really about ‘let’s get usage and flow way down so we can fix this as soon as possible and get back to normal,'” said Morse.

This order exempts sewer customers on the town’s gravity system and properties with on-site septic systems.

More information, including a map of the affected area, are posted on the town’s website.

Morse said that everything should be up and running by Saturday for the start of Carnival, the busiest week of the year in Provincetown.

Those with questions can call DPW Deputy Director Sherry Prada during business hours at 508-487-7060. Those with sewer emergencies are asked to call the answering service at 508-487-5474 and leave a message.

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