OSKALOOSA – A pump malfunction in the Oskaloosa water treatment plant caused the city’s two water towers to empty overnight.
Staff discovered the pressure loss when reporting to work Tuesday morning and began refilling the water towers.
However low pressure creates the potential for bacteria to enter the system. City officials and the DNR are asking residents in Oskaloosa and Beacon to boil their water until testing shows the water is safe to drink.
Residents should let water boil for one minute, then cool it before using. They should use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
Tap water can be used for bathing and similar purposes.
The city is collecting water samples at 11 locations, including one in Beacon, today and tomorrow. The samples will be sent to a laboratory for testing. The city or DNR will notify residents when water is safe to drink and the advisory is lifted.
City staff will be checking to see why an automated system failed to notify plant operators of the pump failure.
Due to a process control issue and possible low pressures, fecal coliform [or E. coli] bacteria could be in the water supply. These bacteria can make you sick, and are a particular concern for people with weakened immune systems.
What should I do?
- DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
- Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
- The symptoms above are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.
What happened? What is being done?
Bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source (for example, following heavy rains). It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process.
The pumps that bring water from the plant to town were locked out as a result of an operational issue. The water level in both towers was shown to be zero. It is believed that there was still water in the stand pipe of the south tower, but pressure may have dropped below 20 pounds per square inch, and thus the reason for concern about low pressure. The alarm system that typically notifies staff was found to be non-responsive. Staff determined the cause of the pump lockout, corrected it and then restarted the pumps. A systems control company has been on-site to fix the problems with the alarm system. We will inform you when tests show no bacteria and you no longer need to boil your water. We anticipate resolving the problem today, and having results from testing by late Thursday afternoon.
For more information, please contact Chad Coon at 673-8476 or email@example.com. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1(800) 426-4791.