FINAL UPDATE: “ALL CLEAR.” That is the message the city’s Public Works Director delivered to our office around 1:45 pm today (Thursday). The lab test report indicated that the city’s water was not contaminated as a result of Tuesday’s water main break. “It’s all clear,” Wyatt said. Turn the taps back on and enjoy a nice, safe drink of water.
City crews worked overnight Tuesday to repair a water-main break that occurred earlier that afternoon when contractors for PTCI—the internet company laying fiber-optic cable in Canadian—nicked the bottom of an asbestos pipe while boring in the area. When early attempts to stop the leak failed, the water pressure in the system dropped below required levels, and a boil-water notice was issued to all city water users by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
The ban will remain in effect until water samples can be collected and tested, and after a 24-hour wait, contamination to the system ruled out.
Around 5:30 pm Tuesday, City Water/Wastewater Superintendent Abel Lucero reported that there had been a water-main break at the intersection of Birch and Mobeetie streets, disrupting service to homes and businesses from Birch, south to Airport Road.
About three hours later, Lucero reported that the line repair had been completed, but within minutes, the line failed again, and the leak resumed.
“The bottom of the pipe is asbestos cement,” said City Code Enforcement Officer Tommy Wyatt. “We tried several Band-aids, but it just kept crumbling and cracking. Nothing worked.”
Finally, Wyatt said, they repaired the break by replacing 20-feet of the line with new pipe. But by then, enough water had drained that the pressure in the lines dropped below the required 20 psi. “That’s when people have a hard time getting water to their sinks,” he said.
That is also when the water system becomes vulnerable to contamination, which necessitated issuance of a boil-water notice by the TCEQ. The notice was issued around 2:30 am Wednesday morning, and read, in part:
Due to line break, the TCEQ has required the Canadian Municipal Public Water System PWS 1060001 (City of Canadian) to notify all customers to boil their water prior to consumption (e.g., washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc). Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions).
To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice-making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human-consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.
Wyatt immediately contacted The Canadian Record and other area news media, asking that residents and employees be made aware of the boil-water notice. Notices were published on Facebook and Twitter, and quickly shared with others.
Meanwhile, city crews continued work to repair the break. Wyatt finally reported around 2:30 am Wednesday morning that the leak had been fixed, but that because of the pressure drop, a boil-water notice had to be issued.
After the system pressured back up, a city employee transported a water sample to an Amarillo lab, where it is being be tested for any possible contamination.
That test requires 24 hours, Wyatt said, adding that if no contamination occurred, it is possible that the boil-water requirement will be rescinded sometime today (Thursday), if warranted. Those results will be reported as soon as they are released.
Meanwhile, anyone with questions or concerns should contact Joe Jarosek at City Hall, 6 Main St., Canadian, Texas 79014, or by phone at 806.323.6473.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Texas Department of State Health Services emailed specific details of their guidance for retail food establishments under a boil water order. They are posted below: