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Boil order lifted for Marshall and surrounding areas (UPDATE 11:55 a.m. Sunday)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Update 11:55 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 16

A boil order issued for Marshall water customers Saturday has been lifted. MMU General Manager Kyle Gibbs said the order was lifted at 11:40 a.m.

Gibbs said no special action, such as flushing water lines, is required by area residents.

"No contamination was found at all," Gibbs said. "Water never did get to the point of being unsafe to drink anywhere in the Marshall area."

"We do readings every day," he said, "even though they're not required that often."

Once the boil order is issued, Gibbs said, it's not a simple matter of testing and then rescinding the boil order.

"We're required to do testing for 24 hours" once the order is issued. Since MMU didn't have a positive sample of bacterial growth anywhere in the system, "it's a gray area."

Gibbs said MMU hasn't gotten to the "root cause" of the problem, but will continue to pursue it.

"We got (the situation) turned around quickly," Gibbs said. "We maybe issued (the boil order) prematurely, but we would rather err on the conservative side."

Update 8:40 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 16

An MMU official said that as of 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, the boil order in effect for Marshall and several surrounding communities (see below) remains in effect. Further testing was being done Sunday morning.

Update 10:30 p.m.

The boil order will remain in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at the earliest, said Marshall Municipal Utilities General Manager Kyle Gibbs.

Any time the chlorine level in the water system is measured at a saturation below .2 parts per million, MMU must notify Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Gibbs said.

A series of tests must then be run on the water before a boil order can be lifted. MMU has scheduled these tests to be run Saturday, Aug. 15, at 7 a.m. The tests have a 24-hour incubation period, said Gibbs, so if everything goes well, the boil order will be lifted at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The problem was discovered early this morning at Cargill Meat Solutions. After finding a low level of chlorine in the plant's water lines, Cargill employees contacted MMU. Both Cargill and ConAgra Foods shut down operations early because of this issue, said Gibbs. MMU began flushing the system once notified.

He added, "as it turns out, things aren't getting worse, they're getting better. ... The residuals are coming up, and everything looks good right now."

MMU has begun adding sodium hypochlorite directly to its reservoirs, said Gibbs, which has already increased the chlorine level in the water system.

"We'll spend the next weekend (finding) how it got this low," said Gibbs, determining whether it is due to "raw water going in the system or some other issue."

Gibbs said the chlorine residual levels were close to zero parts per million this morning.

MMU has recently switched to sodium hypochlorite instead of chlorine gas to chlorinate the water, Gibbs said, and added that he has had some people suggest to him that this is the reason for the low levels of chlorine residuals.

More information will be released as soon as it's available.

Update 4:50 p.m.

Marshall Mayor Connie Latimer said water consumed so far today is not a cause for concern.

"No one is in any danger from anything they've consumed today," she said. But the boil order is in place to get residents of the affected areas in the habit of taking precautions, because even after the problem is corrected, the city is required to keep the boil order in place for an additional 24 hours.

She noted that water filter systems are not adequate to remove bacteria. Filtered water still needs to be boiled.

Marshall Municipal Utilities officials are in the process of addressing the problem and are not currently available for comment.

More information will be released as soon as it's available.

Marshall Municipal Utilities put a boil order into effect for all customers in the towns of Marshall, Blackwater, Napton and Nelson, all of Saline County Public Water Supply District No. 1 and Saline County Public Water Supply District No. 3, except for the Miami and Van Meter areas Friday afternoon, Aug. 14.

According to a news release from MMU, the reason for this boil order is low chlorine residual levels. The boil order will remain in effect until chlorine residual levels are retuned to an acceptable level.

According to an advisory from MMU, to ensure the water is safe for drinking, users should boil it for three to five minutes and then let it cool before using. Boiling water, the advisory states, kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.

Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food until further notice, reads the release. Boiled or bottled water should also be given to pets.

Household bleach can also be used to disinfect the water, the advisory states, but it warns that bleaches containing perfumes, dyes or other additives should not be used.

For one quart of water, add three drops of bleach solution to clear water or five drops of bleach solution to cloudy, very cold or surface water.

For one half-gallon of water, add five drops of bleach solution to clear water or 10 drops of bleach solution, approximately 1/8-teaspoon, to cloudy, very cold or surface water.

For one gallon of water, add 10 drops of bleach solution to clear water or 20 drops of bleach solution, approximately 1/4-teaspoon, to cloudy, very cold or surface water.

For five gallons of water, add 50 drops, approximately 1/2-teaspoon of bleach solution to clear water or one teaspoon of bleach solution to cloudy, very cold or surface water.

For 10 gallons of water, add one teaspoon of bleach solution to clear water or two teaspoons of bleach solution to cloudy, very cold or surface water.

After adding the bleach solution, mix thoroughly and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before using. Wait 60 minutes before using if the water is cloudy or very cold.

Purifying tablets or chemicals designed for water purification can also be an effective way to disinfect water, reads the advisory.

Saline County Health Department Assistant Administrator Russ Donnell recommend that affected residents use antibacterial hand sanitizer after washing their hands while the boil order is in effect. He also said people should get rid of their ice.

Donnell said dishwashers equipped with sanitizing rinses are still safe to use, as are soda machines that use premixed syrup.

Contact Geoff Rands at marshallreporter@socket.net.

Contact Sydney Stonner at marshallbusiness@socket.net

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Actually Marshall water is not piped in directly from the Missouri river but drawn from wells East of Malta Bend and North of 65 highway. Also if I remember correctly the citywide boil order that was issued in 2007 was due to a water main break in the area of College and Miami streets.

-- Posted by ups44ml2 on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 11:00 AM

k_m I hope you post your comment on every story for the next year until these people see how they are. You hit the nail on the head with your comment, thank you!

-- Posted by lovesbacon on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 10:26 PM

Thanks k_m for your opinion.This is also my first time to blog anything. I, too, would like to clarify that I am not an employee of the utility, city or county and have never been. Just a Saline county citizen that feels the boil order comments were very unfair and the bloggers were certainly being much too critical of the utility company.

-- Posted by velcroviz on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 5:36 PM

I read the blogs frequently but have never felt the need to post, until now. I have to give kudos to 'velcroviz'; the negativity posted by everyone on the blogs is ridiculous. Not just this article, but any article the paper publishes is just filled with comments about how horrible our city/county/citizens are.

"To err is human, to forgive divine" Boy, that's no joke. Apparently, the only people who have no faults are the bloggers themselves. Everyone else in the city/county/country are evil, worthless crooks who are out to make our lives miserable. Does that pretty much sum it up?

I have lived in Marshall for almost 20 years, and have mets countless of wonderful people. I think it would be hard to find another town that comes close in service, facilities offered, the school system, and opportunities available for our children. I am not a city employee or official, thank goodness, and would not want their thankless, 24 hour a day, job. But I apptreciatre all of theitr wotrk.

I must say, the only complaints I have about living in Marshall anjd Saline County is the negativity and judgmental attitude of some of the citizens. Mistakes happen, unless you are God. So get over it, and be grateful for what you have!!

-- Posted by k_m on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 3:36 PM

The boil order was lifted about an hour ago. Please see the updated story.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 12:32 PM

Instead of sounding off with all the negativity about the local utility (how much of it is a personal issue?)I think everyone that uses the services should be grateful for the fast response to all problems they face.We have been in Marshall for 31 years and for our home this is the first ever boil order. These employees have given up weekends, nights and holidays to make sure we have the best service available. Let this problem make all you complainers stop and think about what we have to be grateful for instead of just looking for a reeason to berate them. Do your vehicles ever break down? Do you ever make a mistake? Are you human? Remember, to err is human and machines do break down from time to time, so instead of berating the company and its employees stop and say a little prayer for the safety and the service each one provides us.

-- Posted by velcroviz on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 11:05 AM

MMU just plan sucks. I bet anything here within the next 3 month, we will see in the paper that the employees at MMU are getting a raise ir that our rates are being raised. Plain and simple MMU is horrible!

-- Posted by get a clue on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 9:31 PM

Raise my water bill? LOL. I live in the 2nd water district. Lots of luck in that.

"Litlmiss" very doubtful you'll need to do much other than turn on the faucet and allow it to run for 30 seconds.

Prevenitive methods? LOL. See video of bus driver texting while drive and smashing into an SUV at nearly 40 mph. HINT: If someone paid attention, no bolier order.

-- Posted by ieatsuperglue on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 9:13 PM

That doesn't speak well for having two boil orders in two years does it?

-- Posted by broke-n-busted on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 4:21 PM

A quick search of our archives led me to this story, www.marshallnews.com/story/1249524.html,

in which we find the information that the boil order in 2007 was the first city-wide such order in Marshall IN FORTY YEARS. The one this weekend would then be the second. I think that pretty well settles any arguments anyone would like to start (or finish).

Here's the text from that story:

"Gibbs said the boil order is "extremely unusual for Marshall."

This is the first boil order for the entire city in more than 40 years, he continued.

"You cannot find anyone that ever remembers one for the entire town," he said.

If residents see a boil order in town, it is usually only for a few houses, he continued."

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 4:01 PM

I have questions like once the boil order is over then do we have to flush out the lines at our homes and for how long?

Why did it take a local business to discover this issue?

Why was it that there are no red flags that prevent such an event?

-- Posted by litlmissme on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 3:15 PM

MMU should pay for lost wages? Ok, say they do. You're sure to see your water bill increased. Want that?

MMU should pay for cans of soda from the local restaurants? The restaurant I frequented earlier today charged me for mine. I assume the others are doing the same. (Someone feel free to correct me if you had another experience) I doubt they are taking a loss on that product.

From the way some people around town are whining about about having to boil water or buy bottled, some of you aren't going to make it very long if we have some sort of disaster or catastrophe. Better have some water (and goods) on hand and read up on survival skills, people. Stop complaining and take some responsibility for yourselves. MMU is doing their best to resolve this matter.

-- Posted by Dawson16 on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 2:39 PM

STLgirl, key words in my post were "city wide".

If you recall boil orders at Fitzgibbon, then they were relative to the hospital or that particular area. Not the entire town of Marshall.

-- Posted by Dawson16 on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 2:16 PM

Coming soon:

"Don't drink the water, we put too much bleach in it."

Yes, MMU should pay for Con Agra, and Cargill's employee lost wages. Including, any products that where damaged, and anything else they can be held for. They should also pay for the cans of soda KFC and other places hand out.

-- Posted by ieatsuperglue on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 1:52 PM

I've lived here off and on since 2001 and have worked at Fitz in the past and can remember boil orders while working there. Don't know when but it was more then once.

-- Posted by STLgirlMarshallMom on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 12:13 PM

STLgirl, you're wrong in thinking these are common. There was a city wide boil order a couple of years ago - summer of '07. Before that, I don't ever remember one. And I've lived here a long time.

-- Posted by Dawson16 on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 12:03 PM

So how long had this problem been going on before the boil order? Is my infant going to end up sick with who knows what from bottles washed in unboiled water Friday late AM? At least they were only washed in it and my child doesn't get formula. It seems to me this happens way more often here then other towns I've lived in, so what is the issue with our water supply here?

-- Posted by STLgirlMarshallMom on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 10:29 AM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
Mayor Connie Latimer said Friday afternoon that "No one is in any danger from anything they've consumed today."

Also, I've lived here 5 years and this is the first boil order.

I'm not sure what MMU's track record was prior to 2004.

It seems to me that the water may need to be tested more frequently. Any time something in the equation is changed or done differently it should be watched closely to see how it is going to work. Even though this could have just been a fluke accident my main concern is that MMU was assuring everyone that the water was fine and that the only problem was with Cargil. It took several hours before they placed the boil order.

-- Posted by cahman8 on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 10:03 AM

I tried to call District 3 to check if our loop is included on the boil order (Near Van Meter and Rural Miami address) but there is only a recording. If you call the emergency number of SCPW Dist. 3 all you get is a message and an emergency number no answer. So are the area definitions based on mailing addresses (remember some people had to change towns due to 911) If your address is rural Miami (that region stretches from State Road N near Malta Bend to just outside Slater) If SCPW District 3 has such a diverse area should we number the loops and let people know their water loop address, so we know which loops are affected?

Called the MMU number and got to talk to somebody who was very helpful to let me know to call the SCPW Dist #3 they maintained the maps of the affected areas. I know that everybody is working hard to correct the problem and I thank them for their work. But I believe that SCPW Dist. #3 needs to better identify the various loops within their system.

-- Posted by movaldude on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 9:58 AM

you ppl really need to get a life! it is just typical that u marshall ppl have to sit and find something to stir about. democrat should shut down this blog all u ppl do is complain.

-- Posted by dodge65340 on Fri, Aug 14, 2009, at 11:56 PM

is marshalls water plant going to pay the wages for the people of excel and conagra for all the work lost this weekend from there mistake

-- Posted by BOBCAT on Fri, Aug 14, 2009, at 11:35 PM

I really don't want to be disrespectful; but why after 60 plus years of using liquid CL2 successfully in 1 ton containers to disinfect the water is now a bad method of disinfection? Why is the new method of using "sodium-hypochlorite" (HTH) not working like it should................. just wondering.

-- Posted by waterman7622 on Fri, Aug 14, 2009, at 8:40 PM

I was told that it wasn't the city who found it, but Excel. They do their own water testing and found no chlorine. Once again, not saying this is truth, just the rumor I heard around town.

-- Posted by Oldblackcat on Fri, Aug 14, 2009, at 5:03 PM

Did they say for how long?

-- Posted by lovesbacon on Fri, Aug 14, 2009, at 3:46 PM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
No time estimate was provided, I'm afraid. Geoff is trying to get more information.

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