The three most dreaded words in a utility manager’s vocabulary are water boil alert but no matter how hard we work to make sure we don’t have to use them very often there are times when advising customers to boil their water is the most prudent course of action. And that’s exactly what we’ve got in the north part of Kent adjacent to SR 43.
City Engineer Jim Bowling advised me this afternoon that one of the gas utility contractors working along SR43 north of Fairchild disrupted the City’s 12″ water transmission line that serves that area of Kent extending all the way up SR43 to Roosevelt High School, including Riverbend. As a result of the disruption of water service the High School dismissed the school kids early in the afternoon.
As of 6 pm this evening, the City crews are still working to replace the joint in the line where the problem occurred so those families served by that section of the line remain out of water service at this time. We expect the repair work to be finished tonight but we will then have to go through the neighborhoods that lost water service and flush the lines completely (at fire hydrants and dead end blow offs) to be sure the water in the lines meets all public health standards. That flushing effort will likely take 12 hours to perform.
In the interim, with the loss of pressure in the line this afternoon the risk of possible water quality problems (e.g., sediments, low levels of residual chlorine) is heightened so in accordance with State health requirements we have reported the incident to the EPA and advised the public media outlets that Gene Roberts (Public Service Director) has officially instituted a water boil alert effective at 4 pm this evening.
As soon as the line flushing and water testing protocol that is required for these types of the events is completed and the water has passed the strict testing requirements we will advise the public that the alert is over. These tests often take 30 hours or so to complete so if everything goes well the boil alert may be able to lifted by Wednesday. We are advising residents to listen to radio station 1620 AM for updates on the water situation.
Here’s the official press release announcing the boil alert.
This was a significant water loss in our system that nearly drained the Fairchild tank so we are fortunate that our crews were able to respond quickly and effectively to protect the integrity of the water distribution system by isolating the problem. Obviously our goal now is to get the disruption repaired and get the affected neighborhoods quality water as soon as possible.