Oct 11, 2007

State Lifts Water Boil Order

Officials with the Department of Natural Resources have lifted a month-long boil order for areas of unincorporated eastern Jackson County.

Water District 16 officials reported that they had restored water quality as of Friday, but were required to wait for DNR officials to withdraw the boil order. DNR officials issued the boil order Sept. 10 after tests indicated the drinking water did not have safe levels of chlorine, which kills bacteria. In addition, one of two water towers was not operating properly, and water district officials had not conducted proper maintenance, said DNR Public Drinking Water Unit Chief Tracey Casburn.

She said the district will be scrutinized for the next year to ensure that proper measures are taken to prevent another boil order. The procedures include testing the water, flushing the water tanks to rid the system of sediment and debris and checking chlorine levels to ensure they don't drop too low.

"They basically didn't have system control," she said, adding those issues were responsible for the boil order. The district has hired a new operations manager to replace the one who was in charge when the boil order was issued. The earlier manager, Bob Dollins, resigned soon after the boil order was issued. The water board hired Kyle Leeds, whom Casburn described as having "the right credentials" for the job.

Steve Fogarty, chairman of the water district board, said he's not sure if the district will reduce customers' water bills due to the month-long boil order, as some customers have requested. Fogarty said the board will address the issue at their upcoming meeting in about two weeks.

"That's not the norm for any utility company," he said. "I know they've had some inconvenience and we feel sorry about that. But whether anything will be done or not, I can't actually say."

District 16 officials said the reactions of customers were predictable after a month of living with a boil order, which required them to either boil drinking water or purchase bottled water.