Thursday, December 9, 2010
notice lifted; but few knew to treat water
Precaution issued following main break at West Main and Legendary Lane in GBC
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITYA boil water notice was lifted shortly after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, following a water main break in Gun Barrel City Friday.
The main break affected about 1,000 East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District customers, including businesses and housing subdivisions west of Walmart.
Though a boil water notice message was to be transmitted via the utilitys phone master system, and was publicized on television and local radio, some say they werent warned and went through the entire weekend without treating their water.
East Deer Island resident and city councilman Dennis Baade said he wasnt aware of the notice until Monday, when he saw it posted on the citys marquee.
I went down and talked to them and they (ECCFWSD) looked up my number and said, yes, I was on the list of telephone numbers that was called, Baade said. But I didnt get a call. There is no recording on my answering machine that they called me.
And later, I learn that they had a breakdown in their telephoning system and they never even called me back, out of courtesy, he added. Its not very professional.
I guess they have no way to validate that the message was actually transmitted, and if we all get sick, well, its too late, Baade explained.
ECCFWSD general manager Bill Goheen said there was very little risk of water contamination. Triple-site microbial tests all came back negative for chloroform early Tuesday.
A test is mandatory to lift a boil water notice when water pressure is greatly reduced. In this case, the line was depressurized during the repair, Goheen said.
Residents and businesses were first alerted to the main break Friday through the citys instant telephone alert system. That evening, a boil water notice was published through mass media.
Goheen said by the time the utility knew it would have to depressurize part of the system to repair the break, city hall had closed, and he couldnt get a message out on the citys instant call alert system.
The utility also used its phone master alert system, which was programmed to call customers within certain zones. However, the technology dials numbers one at a time, and transmits a recorded message.
The board is looking at updating to one similar to that used by Gun Barrel City, which can blast out a transmission to large numbers of people at one time, Goheen said.
The city issued a boil water notice Monday morning at the utilitys request.
The Environmental Commission on Environmental Quality gives utility districts guidelines for disseminating boil water notices. It suggests the use of mass media or door-to-door notification within the first 24 hours.
We had too many customers to go door-to-door, Goheen said. I apologize we had a telephone system failure and some didnt get contacted by phone.
When the boil water notice was lifted, Goheen said the person at city hall who initiates the mass calling system wasnt there, so he again relied upon mass media to spread the word, including the local newspapers.
We are confident that the repair was made safely, as borne out by the negative testing results, he said. Water service was restored at around 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Goheen told The Monitor shifting soil conditions resulted in a 12-inch main encased in steel to rest atop a cross six-inch water main below it at the State Highway 334 and Legendary Lane intersection.
Work crews isolated the area around the break, dug the trench deeper and lowered the six-inch water main another four to six inches, inserting two elbows set at 22 degrees, Goheen explained.
The water outage and subsequent boil water notice affected mainly the Mantle Manors, Harbor Point and Sandy Shores subdivisions, as well as locations on south Legendary and businesses in the area.
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