Joe P. Asher
Customers of the Cawood Water District have endured multiple interruptions in water service recently.
Pete Dean, Superintendent for the Cawood Water District, explained that outages are caused for several different reasons.
“Part of the problem is probably us, but not all of the problem,” said Dean. “We have trouble with fire departments coming and opening our hydrants, and our hydrants are not firefighting efficient.”
Dean pointed out that a hydrant painted black signifies to firefighters that the hydrants are not to be used to fight fires.
While the hydrants can be used to fill tanks, they are not designed for firefighting operations Dean explained.
“They can go fill a truck up, but shut the thing off slow, don’t shut it off fast because that will cause the line to hammer, and we’ve got a lot of PVC line,” said Dean.
According to Dean, it is this PVC line that causes many issues.
“People complain because we have leaks, but we’ve got PVC line in the ground and it’s not as strong as an iron line, and there’s gonna be leaks,” stated Dean. “Any water company that’s spread out as much as we are is going to have leaks.”
The PVC issue is compounded because some of that line is around 20 years old.
“Some of it was put in when the line was first built back in the 1990s,” said Dean. “That’s not to say it won’t last, but everything does get weak as years go by.”
Another issue customers have to deal with is the frequent issuance of boil-water advisories.
“Anytime there’s a break in the line or a reduction of pressure in the line…we do issue a boil-water each and every time and the public service division of water sees that we do that. They jump on us pretty hard if we don’t,” said Dean.
There are guidelines to insure water is safe for drinking after a leak.
“When we pressurize a line, 24 hours after that we are to take a sample of that water above the leak and below the leak,” stated Dean.
While there are exceptions, a boil-water advisory will normally only last a few days.
“It shouldn’t be more than a week at the most, unless something pretty drastic has happened,” said Dean.
According to Dean, in order to locate a leak it is necessary to keep track of the amount of water in the tanks. If that level drops too quickly, then there is likely a leak somewhere down the line. The procedure for locating leaks has been hampered due to equipment issues, as the system that alerts the main office about loss of water at the tanks has not operated properly for around 15 years.
“Our telemetry system’s been out of service since ‘96 or ‘95,” said Dean. “If a tank starts going down it’s supposed to tell us in here, but our system don’t, we have to personally go look at it.”
The possibility of repairing the telemetry system is currently being addressed.
“We’re taking care of that,” said Dean. “We’ve let bids out for a new system — a totally new system that covers even Pathfork and Smith.”
Dean explained the work should at least be started by August or September.
Cawood Water District was recently cited for a violation.
“T.O.C. is what we got wrote up for,” clarified Dean. “Total Organic Matter is what it is, and the only thing it is it’s the rotten wood and leaves and trees in the river and our water source comes out of the river. They wrote us up for being a high month. We try to control it. It’s either slow the plant down and control it or put some chemical in it to control it.”
According to Dean, the problem has been corrected.
“We have took care of that problem and it’s not really anything that would hurt anybody,” said Dean.
When a boil advisory is necessary, there are procedures to notify the public.
“We have our fax machine fixed where it will notify the radio stations and the paper and we have to notify the county, the safety director,the health department and the division of water,” explained Dean.
The general public is notified of boil advisories through local radio stations and the Harlan Daily Enterprise, stated Dean.
Customers of the Cawood Water District can report problems by phoning 606-573-3744
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org