Outage leaves areas dry

It was a case of water everywhere and not a drop to drink for many Minot-area residents this past weekend.

A broken pipe left North Prairie Rural Water District customers south of Minot and as far east as Granville either without drinking water or under a boil order even as residents battled heavy spring runoff.

Teresa Sundsbak, general manager for North Prairie, said Sunday afternoon that the district hoped to have water restored by that evening and the boil order lifted either Sunday night or by this morning.

Jackie Hildenbrand, who lives southeast of Minot, was still waiting for water late Sunday afternoon after having gone without since Saturday morning. Her family bought drinking water, but there wasn’t much else they could do.

“There’s plenty of water outside,” Hildenbrand said. “You are flooding and you are pumping water but you have no water. We are just waiting, patiently waiting. It’s not fun, but you have to deal with it.”

Some residents made good use of the outdoor runoff.

“We’re using outside pond water to flush our toilets,” said Rick Langley of Logan.

Without water since Saturday, Langley and his wife, Bonnie, were frustrated in not knowing how much longer the outage would last. Not having water has been an inconvenience, he said, especially when it means driving into Minot to take a shower.

Jaime Yunko of Sawyer said she was bone dry from Saturday until Sunday morning at her house.

“So far we’re OK. We actually had some water stored away from the scare last year,” she said. “We’re definitely getting ready to boil water for cooking.”

Beyond that, she said, “You just have to make like you’re in Mexico … and close your mouth when you’re in the shower.”

The outage occurred after a broken pipe in North Prairie’s plant near Voltaire caused treated water to overflow from a storage well. The resulting overland flooding, aggravated by the runoff from melting snow, led to ground water entering the storage facility.

The amount of ground water getting into the well was small relative to the system’s size, and chlorine residuals in the water were good. But North Prairie, working with the State Health Department, declared the boil order as a safety precaution, Sundsbak said.

Plant operators were able to shut valves and limit the area affected.

“We were very lucky it’s a very small area instead of the whole system,” Sundsbak said. North Prairie preserved part of its system by switching customers in the area of Eastside Estates and Meadowbrook from its Voltaire plant to its distribution system served by the Minot Water Treatment Plant.

North Prairie posted on its website a boil order for the townships of Willis, Sundre, Gasman, Newman, Rushville, Iota Flat, Newman, Sawyer, Brillian, Greeley, New Prairie and Surrey in Ward County and the townships of Norwich, North Prairie, Velva, Brown, Bjornson, Granville, Hendrickson, Lebanon, Voltaire, Olivia, Lake Hester, Cottonwood Lake and Odin in McHenry County. On Sunday afternoon, the boil order list added part of Falsen Township in McHenry County but also only included North Prairie, Hendrickson, Sawyer, Velva, Lebanon, Brown, Voltaire and parts of Norwich, Willis, Lake Hester, Newman, Brillian, Bjornson and Olivia.

North Prairie asked for water conservation and alerted customers to potential low pressure.

Sundsbak said North Prairie had repaired the broken pipe Saturday night only to have it break again on Sunday. Crews were repairing the pipe again Sunday, and water testing was to be conducted at various points in the system to verify compliance with health standards before the boil order was lifted.

“We are also looking at our SCADA system,” Sundsbak said of the Voltaire plant’s operating system, “to see why that pipe blew in the first place. This system was only five years old. This is a new treatment plant.”