A combination of several things happening over the holiday weekend created a “perfect storm” in the Shields and Highsplint area resulting in approximately 150 households losing their water supply. Evarts Mayor Eddie Manning said the loss occurred when the city’s water tank at Shields was depleted.
“What happened was a combination of a lot of things happening at one time,” said Manning. “It was Memorial Day weekend and everyone was off work washing cars, houses, filling swimming pools, both RV parks filled with people using water, a house fire on Saturday night and two car washes in the city running steady. The overload caused our Shields tank to go empty.”
Manning said they shut their Shields plant off on Wednesday to help fill the Laurel Branch tank back up to capacity. He said they hope to open the Shields plant back up today.
“We’re hoping our customers will only be without water for two days,” said Manning. “Best case scenario, water should be back on by early Friday morning.”
Manning said the city anticipated the water needs of their customers and immediately set up a water distribution station at Shields Pentecostal Church as soon as they realized what had happened. He said customers can go now and obtain drinking water at the church.
“We tried to think ahead and make the situation as easy as we could for our customers,” said Manning. “We have contacted the Harlan County Rescue Squad to get a tanker up to the Shields area for customers to have flushable water. We’ve purchased drinking water and will be at the church from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. each day giving out water as needed. We’ve been in constant contact with magistrate Bill Moore and Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop keeping them assessed of the situation.”
Chief Water Plant Operator Woody Fields said he is “diligently checking levels” to ensure tanks are filled, so that at least during the day there is enough water for everyone in the city.
“The tanks work off pressure,” said Fields. “The more water that’s in the tank the more pressure people have. There are some people on the outskirts that don’t have any pressure because of the tanks being low. We’re trying to get the water supply built back up to get pressure and water restored.”
Fields said the city has a total of three water tanks at Sals Branch, Shields and Laurel Branch.
“When water is restored, I’m asking customers to conserve as much as possible to allow tanks to fill to capacity,” said Manning. “Both car washes in the city have been asked to close and they have complied. We want everyone to know we’re working hard to get this situation cleared up as soon as possible. We’re going to stay on this until we get it fixed. I promise we’re going to learn from this and look at ways to avoid this happening in the future. We’re looking at the possibility of drilling some more wells or finding another water source. Right now our mine water is low and we don’t know why. We just need to figure out what we can do so this doesn’t happen again.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org