Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TOP STORY >> Base repairs water leak

Leader staff writer

Arnold Drive Elementary students got a surprise on their first day of school – no drinking water.

A water main break on the base near the school early Saturday morning caused a precautionary boil-order to be issued by the state Health Department. It was sent to all base residents and the school, plus military family housing, the base exchange, commissary, lakeside shoppette, the family/recreational camp, 19th Medical Group (B1090), and child/youth centers (B1990 and B1992) on the base.

The boil order was lifted late Tuesday afternoon.

Derek Scott, with the Pulaski County Special School District, said he got the call about 20 minutes after the break was discovered.

“I hated to hear the news, but it was great that they called us so quickly,” he said. “I tip my hat to the men in blue for a job well done.”

The early warning allowed the district to turn off the school’s water fountains and get in touch with nutrition services to change the planned menu to sandwiches and other pre-cooked items.

“We also brought in 20 cases of bottled water for the students Monday and Tuesday,” Scott said. “I think they enjoyed that.”

According to Tech. Sgt. Jason Armstrong, the break occurred about 3:30 a.m. Saturday and about 650,000 gallons of water was lost, but no flooding or other damage occurred. “Our airmen were working on the break within 30 minutes of notification,” Armstrong said, adding that the water main break was caused by stress on the pipe from the rocky soil conditions in the area.

He said there were no reported illnesses from the water.

As part of the boil order issued by the health department, all affected customers were advised that the base or school water may have been unsafe for human consumption.

Water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, or washing dishes needed to be boiled briskly for one minute prior to use. All ice cubes needed to be discarded. It was recommended that only boiled or bottled water be used for making new ice. Before boiling, water customers were asked to flush their water lines by turning on faucets until water ran clear.

Other non-potable uses, such as bathing, showering and hand washing, didn’t require boiling.

Kerry Krell, with the state Health Department, said the boil order was issued as a precaution because of the drop in water pressure from the break.

“When we are notified of an incident like this, we document it, require the water provider to notify all customers and issue the boil order. The order stays in effect until the repairs are made and the water is tested,” Krell explained.

The health department lab came back with an all-clear report about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the order was lifted.

Base bioenvironmental officials said Tuesday afternoon that an adequate disinfectant level had been established throughout the distribution system and the satisfactory completion of a bacteriological survey showed the water was safe to drink.