UPDATE: Robbins Water Restored
Water is back on in Robbins, though the town manager is advising people to boil any used for drinking or cooking. The town lost its water source Sunday with only a day’s supply left in town tanks.
Service went out Sunday afternoon and was restored mid-morning Monday. Robbins gets its water from Montgomery County, so an outage there means no water for Robbins as well.
“I spoke with the main man at their plant today,” Town Manager Jeff Sheffield said. “A pipe on one of their pumps broke, and then a 14 inch main. They are waiting for parts that are expected Tuesday for a permanent fix, but temporary repairs got the water back on. Our tanks are going to be full, so even if they have to shut down on Tuesday when they make the permanent repair Robbins will be fine. I don’t think he will (shut down), but if he does it won’t affect us.”
BOIL ALL WATER FOR HUMAN USE
The town – like all of Montgomery County – will be on a “boil water advisory” until further notice.
“The water is safe – this is just precautionary,” Sheffield said. “I am stressing that it is only precautionary.”
Outages and periods of low pressure increase the potential for back-siphoning and consequent introduction of bacteria into any water system. The state Division of Environmental Health advises that after water is restored following an outage, consumers should boil all water used for human consumption (including drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, making ice and food preparation) or use bottled water.
“Vigorous boiling for 1 minute should kill any disease-causing organisms that may be present,” a notice issued in Troy, the county seat, said. “This advisory remains in effect until further notice is issued. Once water quality tests confirm that your water is safe for consumption, a notice to this affect will be given.”
Discolored water is not dangerous.
“Air in the water or discoloration could occur upon service being restored; this poses no health risk in and of itself,” Montgomery County said. “Flushing your system by leaving a faucet running should clear the lines.”
Sheffield says Robbins will follow Troy in this precautionary measure. He’ll lift the boil water advisory once Montgomery County does. For now, the water is back on, though conservation is still encouraged.
"As of 8 a.m. all pumps were operational and water is moving across the county," Montgomery County said. "It will take most of the day to get the tanks back to their normal levels."
MANDATORY CONSERVATION ORDER
Montgomery County had issued a mandatory water conservation notice after the catastrophic pipe break and pump failure. All its customers were being required to limit water use to bare necessities.
“Only water necessary to sustain human lives and the lives of domesticated animals shall be used until further notice,” a county notice said. “Due to a major equipment failure at the Water Treatment Plant on January 20th, 2013, Montgomery County water customers may experience water service outages and periods of low pressure.”
Their remaining pumps had to be turned off around 5 p.m. Sunday when the failure forced a shutdown of their entire system – meaning no water for Robbins or anywhere else pending repairs.
“Please be advised that the Montgomery County Water Treatment Facility has suffered a mechanical failure to the pumping system which distributes water across the county and to the town of Robbins in Moore County,” a notice on their county website said. “Until repairs can be completed outages may impact rural customers, all municipalities in Montgomery County and Robbins, as well as private treatment facilities along the lake areas.”
Robbins Town Manager Jeff Sheffield had to use reverse 911 and ask his town’s water customers to use as little water as possible until supply from Montgomery County can be restored. Not all customers still have land lines, so people were asked to tell family and neighbors who only use cellular service about the problem.
“I spoke with Tommy Overby at their plant, and he told me a 14-inch water main coming out of their plant had broken,” Sheffield said. “Their county was down to a six hour supply when they found it. Fortunately, all three of our tanks were full. We have about a 24 hour supply provided everybody will conserve.”
Mayor Lonnie English and Sheffield immediately worked to notify as many people as possible to cut water use. In Montgomery County, work at the plant was under way.
“They have a contractor on the way to make repairs,” the manager said. “They had to bring in out of town help, but hope to have things back up by the early morning hours tomorrow. They’ve assured me they are doing everything possible to get back up and running ASAP. It’s their whole county that’s affected.”
In the meantime Sheffield asked people to use common sense about restricting the amount of water they use.
“Hold off on washing machines and dishwashers,” he said. “Don’t take 30-minute showers, of course. Fortunately there’s no school Monday, so that helps.”
The Fire Department already had plans for situations like this and there was no worry about not having water to fight any fires in Robbins or its fire district. Fire Engines can fill their water tanks at the mill pond or the town reservoir and has other sources to call upon, according to Sheffield.
“We spoke with the Fire Chief,” he said. “They can fight fires without having to use hydrants.”
He was counting on people in Robbins – many of whom grew up with wells – to understand what has to be done in this emergency.
“I hope so,” said Sheffield, who is also the police chief. “If everybody conserves water, Robbins should be okay. We are starting to dig our test wells Tuesday morning.”
The town is looking for its own water supply and obtained grant funding for a series of test wells in hopes of finding sufficient below surface water on the banks of Bear Creek to make Robbins independent. Well water would likely require minimal treatment, and that could be done at the well head – it would mostly involve enough chlorination to protect the water through pipes and in storage.
Until its own source is available Robbins will continue having to rely on its contract with Montgomery County.
More like this story