Officials lift water-use ban

Tests show no signs of contamination after pipe break

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Adrienne Wisniewski, with Windemere Landscape & Garden Center, gives some flowers a needed drink Thursday afternoon after the water ban was lifted for the west side of Steamboat Springs. "We'll definitely be here until closing watering," Wisniewski said.

— A ban on water use in west Steamboat Springs was lifted Thursday afternoon after tests on nine water samples showed no signs of contamination. City officials made the announcement at about 1 p.m., almost 48 hours after the ban was implemented.

The city sent out two rounds of reverse-911 calls to inform residents of the news.

The water ban was put into effect Tuesday after a construction contractor broke a water main at the Bud Werner Memorial Library construction site.

Lauren Mooney, assistant to the city manager, said water in the affected areas may appear cloudy at first but it's safe to consume. City officials said water customers could run their taps for five minutes to clear up the cloudiness.

After Thursday's announcement, City Man-ager Alan Lanning said he was already working on other issues and joked that he had almost forgotten about the incident. He said he was impressed and thankful with the around-the-clock work of city and county staff throughout the incident.

"I'm really proud of the way everybody worked," Lanning said. "It was really sort of an extraordinary effort in my mind."

The city delivered portable toilets to neighborhoods and commercial centers throughout the west side of the city, distributed water to affected residents and arranged for donated shower facilities at Old Town Hot Springs.

Despite these steps, Lanning said there were still plenty of frustrated residents.

"The surprise of not having a basic service is more traumatic than you think it is," Lanning said.

Steve Weinland, owner of Royal Flush Indust-ries and Aces High Services, said his crews planned to spend Thursday evening cleaning and hauling away the 175 portable toilets and other equipment they set up Tuesday.

Lanning said the water line break and subsequent water ban was the most severe incident the city has seen since he took over as city manager more than a year ago, but he played down its seriousness.

"While it affected a lot of people, it was just a water line break," Lanning said.

Although a relatively minor crisis, Lanning said the situation provided a learning experience for the city.

"One of the real issues here is our ability to isolate lines and have redundancy in lines," Lanning said.

A redundancy system for the west end of the city would mean water would be available from more than one pipe system. Lanning said such systems are very expensive, and thus often overlooked.

"It's one of the areas that's always neglected that shouldn't be neglected," Lanning said.

As old equipment is replaced and new sections of the city are built to the west, Lanning said the city would take those opportunities to build in redundancy, cost permitting.

The costs to the city resulting from the water line break are not yet available, and Lanning would not say how much of those costs the city would ask Adolfson & Peterson, the construction contractor that broke the water line, to cover. He said he had spoken to representatives with the company and that they "appeared to be very cooperative and willing to cooperate in the future."

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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