Explanation for why Jefferson City Went Without Water

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri American Water officials on Wednesday gave a detailed account of what happened during a water main break in October. Officials said they wanted to discuss the issue with the public, because it is an important topic to the community.

Operations Superintendent Gilbert Cole said a corroded strap at the Jefferson City pumping station broke, causing extra pressure on the water system. The pumping station is more than a hundred years old, and officials said it is hard to check all of the straps and plumping.

Officials said when the system collapsed in October, city administrators notified hospitals and nursing homes, to make sure they had alternative water sources. At the time of the break, officials did not know if the water was contaminated, so they took precautionary steps to make sure residents had safe drinking water. Missouri American Water and city administrators released a boil advisory and contacted 11,000 customers of Missouri American Water with a number on file.

"By 1:30 p.m. the system was back to normal, Cole said." "The first thing we did was open the air valves to help get air off the system...within three hours, we got the water level down to make repairs and checked the electrical systems."

It was extra difficult when the strap broke because Jefferson City does not have an elevated tank. Cole said if there was an elevated tank nearby, they could have transfered clean water from the tank into the water system, until the main break was fixed. Cole said the delay in giving resident the okay to use drinking water came when workers had to check the water flow for bacteria. "With situations like this, black flow happens, which makes it easy for bacteria to enter water, Cole said." "Once we collected the samples from throughout the system, and put them in an incubator, they had to be in the incubator for 18 hours before they could be read."

Plant workers said in the future they will do a better job inspecting the water plant, and will make sure facilities are up to date. Employees of Missouri American Water said they are working on adding an elevated water tank to Jefferson City by 2014.