Water main breaks and outages leave Elsberry residents asking why?

Over the last few months, Elsberry residents have been subject to water outages, boil alerts and various other mishaps. The reason? Improvements…that is what Elsberry City Mayor Terry Martin and Alliance Water Manager Ron Conger stated.

“We have been replacing lines, some of which are 80-years old,” said Conger. “Every time a new line gets tied into an old one people are going to be out of water and anytime there is no pressure in the line we are required to issue a 24-hour boil advisory.”

At that point, Conger said they must send in samples of the water to make sure it’s good. Some of the leaks that Elsberry has been subject to have been simply because workers didn’t know where the lines were. Part of that, according to Conger, comes from improper mapping of the old lines, a problem that he said is now remedied.

“There really are no past records on water lines and where they’re at,” Conger said. “Basically, we’ve been going by memory and the famous witching sticks in order to find them.”

Since it’s not an exact science, Conger said the process has caused some unforeseen problems. However, he went on to say as far as he knows there has only been two occasions where tie-ins have been missed, for whatever reason.

“This was unfortunate because we thought some people had water and they didn’t,” Conger said. “Now once we learned of the problem, we took care of it as quickly as possible.”

Shown above is the placement of the final tie-in for the Elsberry Water Project, predicted to be complete by this fall. The final placement was at the corner of Seventh Street and Griffin St.

According to Martin, some of the problems he has seen has been, not only notifying certain residents of water outages, but from residents not notifying the city they are out until several hours later.

“If a person loses water at 8 a.m. and no notice has been given, call the city,” Martin said. “Some of the people that were without, we had no clue until they called at 5:30 p.m. and asked what was going on.”

Martin and Conger said the process of notifying residents of boil alerts or water main breaks is by NIXLE, e-mail, text alerts and for some areas going door-to-door, because not every one has computers or cell phones.

“I knew we were going to have problems once the contracts were signed for new water lines,” Martin said. “The city has had old water lines for years and some were never documented. There is just no way to predict what problems are going to arise until your in the thick of it.”

However, Martin went on to say even though the problems may seem excessive, the water project and the issues are leading up to better things for the community.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm