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.