BARRE – Granite City residents and businesses are being asked to voluntarily conserve water over the next 48 hours in an effort to avoid being ordered to boil it.
Citing a “mechanical malfunction” at the city’s water filtration plant that has been exacerbated by a seasonal dip in the quality of raw water at that Dix Reservoir in Orange, city officials issued the water conservation notice at 6 p.m.
Mayor Thomas Lauzon said City Manager Steve Mackenzie made the call after tracking after water plant personnel reported there had been a detectable drop in the amount of finished water being held in the city’s storage tanks.
“The production of finished water has declined pretty noticeably in the last 12 hours,” Lauzon said, noting that while millions of gallons remain available and there is no shortage of water in the reservoir itself officials are concerned that the supply could be depleted before system is repaired.
“It’s serious, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as ‘critical,’” Lauzon said, explaining water plant personnel hope to have the problem corrected in the next 48 hours.
“If not, we bypass the (plant’s) filters and go to a boil water notice,” he said.
According to Lauzon, the quality of the raw water stored in the reservoir typically declines this time of year as spring run-off stirs up the water creating a turbidity problem that requires the filtration plants filters to “work harder.”
When the filters are full, Lauzon said they use finished water to “backwash” – a process that has further depleted the supply of available drinking water.
“Part of it is an operational malfunction and most if it is a result of it’s springtime and the quality of the raw water has declined,” he said. “It’s sort of the perfect storm.”
Residents are being asked to limit their use of water - flushing toilets only when necessary, skipping or shortening showers and avoiding any extended use of water unless absolutely necessary.
Lauzon said water conservation notices are typically reserved for times when drought-like conditions have reduced the water level in the reservoir to dangerously low levels. That, he said, is certainly not the case.
“It’s not a ‘volume’ issue,” he said. “We have plenty of raw water … we would just prefer to avoid telling people they have to boil it unless that is absolutely necessary.”
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