Major water break disrupts service

A major water line break Friday morning disrupted water service for Richmond customers during the holiday weekend, while others living in higher elevations still have very limited service.
At presstime, Richmond Police dispatch contacted The Daily News and other Richmond businesses that water service would be disrupted again for the repair. A boil order continues until Wednesday or later.
A 16-inch main line on Whitmer Street erupted around 7:30 a.m. Friday. The geyser shot through the asphalt and went as high as the 40-foot tree at the residence on 619 Whitmer, according to witnesses. Five of the councilmen, Jim Dunwoodie, Tom Williams, Dave Powell, Terrie Stanley and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Wright, were at the site after receiving numerous phone calls from constituents about having no water at their homes and businesses.
Bill Kidd, chief water treatment plant operator, said the break was one of the worst in nearly 14 years. At one point, 2,000 gallons of water per minute rushed from the system. Normal usage for that timeframe is 800 to 900 gallons per minute, according to Kidd. The line, which feeds to the Hill St. tower, was shut down Friday to alleviate further water loss. Richmond Public Works crews clamped the line which appears to be holding, according to City Administer Rick Childers.
“We’re slowly gaining on it,” Childers said. “It takes quite awhile to get the system up and running.”
Kidd agrees.
“It’s as good as it can be. What we’re doing is slowly filling up our Hill St. water tower. Most of Richmond should have water. The Pea Ridge area will be the last to get it back,” he said, because of its high elevation. He added that the tower is around three-fourths full. Hill St. tower is normally kept full and additional treated water is stored at the Valley Drive tower.
On Friday, Richmond firefighters manually opened many of the fire hydrants throughout town to lessen water pressure. Because of the break, air was allowed into the lines. Air mixing with full water pressure would have blown more water lines, according to Public Works. Childers said there were only a few small line break-ups after the major line was patched. One was across the street on Whitmer, which was repaired on Friday.
Kidd said they are now slowly restoring normal water pressure. Afterwards, they will check the chlorine residuals to ensure there is enough chlorine in the water. After the chlorine check, Public Works will pull water samples to send to Jefferson City for a bacteria analysis test. The test takes 48 hours to complete.
“We’re going to be in phone contact with the lab. When they say they’re good, we’ll let you and the public know.”
For Public Works, last week was riddled with many water breaks. On Thursday, crews worked into the late evening to fix a 12-inch line break on Ruby St. In all, at least six breaks were reported to the department for repair.
On Friday, the shelves for bottled water were empty at Richmond Apple Market and Walmart. Bob MacDonald, co-owner of Apple Market, said he made an emergency order for bottled water to be on his shelves by Saturday. Sales for water were still brisk throughout the weekend because of the boil order.
One of his biggest customers was Shirkey Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Shirkey Administrator Chris Brown said they purchased most of the large bottles of water from Apple Market and Walmart to keep their 175 clients and staff hydrated.
The skilled care center was without water until around 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Brown said they purchased disposable baby wipes to care for their patients. Although restored water service allowed for laundry and toilets, the skilled care facility is continuing to purchase ice and water.
“Currently, we are working with the city of Richmond and the National Guard to get a buffalo truck of potable water. I have to go through SEMA to request it. If not, we’ll buy water from other towns to get what we need for our patients and staff,” he said.
Photo: Public Works employee Bob Duncan moves gravel into the gaping hole on Whitmer St. after crews worked to clamp a major water line that broke Friday morning. Richmond water customers are under a boil order until Wednesday and possibly later. (Photo by JoEllen Black/The Daily News)

• First, boil water vigorously for three minutes prior to use. Use only boiled water for drinking, diluting fruit juices, and all other food preparation. To improve the flavor of the flat taste of boiled water, store in the refrigerator and pour back and forth from one clean and sanitized container to another. Put a cup over your faucets as a reminder to not use untreated water – even to brush your teeth.
• Water can also be disinfected rather than boiled. To disinfect water intended for drinking or cooking, add one teaspoon unscented chlorine laundry bleach for every five gallons of water. Let stand for 30 minutes before using. Be sure to use sanitized food grade containers for storing water.
• To disinfect water storage containers, pour a solution of one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach to a gallon of water into a container. Let the solution remain in the container for 10 minutes, then pour out the solution. Rinse with purified water. Add boiled or disinfected water. Store for up to six months.
• Next, dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic icemaker. Then, you will need to disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water. Allow surfaces to air dry. Some have asked about using a household dishwasher but there are too many variables for this to be recommended for use. Disposable tableware is an option and is much simpler.
• Water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing or using backyard pools so water is not ingested. Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult with their physicians.


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