The frigid weather is causing a number of problem with the water system in the Metro East.
According to Illinois American Water Company, frosty weather has caused three problems. Those issues begin on the Mississippi River and continue at the treatment plant. And then there are the water main breaks all over Metro East.
Water crews have been making repairs to water main breaks for weeks. Crews were tackling some 30 breaks Wednesday in communities like Shiloh, Belleville, and East St. Louis. That’s about triple the usual number of breaks.
As a result, Illinois American Water issued a boil order to customers in the Metro East. Due to the impact of frigid temperatures, it is necessary for customers to boil water for drinking and cooking. Customers are also required to conserve water use.
In addition, Illinois American Water’s water quality team will be switching treatment to a form of chlorine known as “free chlorine,” which does not contain ammonia.
Terry Mackin, a spokesman for Illinois American Water, said the bitter and long-lasting cold is the number target of blame.
“At the treatment plant itself the cold weather cause a lot of ice build-up you have in the basins and such we work around that,” he said. “On the river, there’s also ice on the intake where we draw water from the Mississippi River. There a lot of challenges out there our crews are working around the clock.”
The Commonfields of Cahokia Public Water District is asking customers to conserve water as well. The Commonfields of Cahokia Public Water District provides water service to customers in Cahokia, Centreville and parts of East St. Louis.
The affected area for Illinois American Water customers can be viewed on this map link: http://arcg.is/yfX8y.
About 150,000 Illinois American Water Company customers are affected. Officials hope to have things back in or in 36 to 48 hours. They will give everyone the all clear when they have achieved their goal.
These are the impacted communities:
- East St. Louis
- Fairmont City
- Washington Park
- Cahokia (from Commonfields of Cahokia PWD)
- Canteen Township
- St. Clair Township
- Stookey Township
- Smithton Township
Also, sale-for-resale customers (wholesale) include:
- Scott Air Force Base
- O’Fallon - (O’Fallon provides water to Fairview Heights)
- Metro-East Municipal Joint Action Water Agency (Commonfields of Cahokia Public Water District & City of Columbia)
Boil Water Order
Customers should bring their water to a rolling boil for five minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. Water is OK for bathing, washing, and other common uses. The boil water order is being issued in accordance with Illinois EPA regulations. Anytime water pressure drops below 20 pounds per square inch in any part of a community’s distribution system, a boil order must be issued as a precaution to protect customers.
Customers in the Metro East service area are also required to conserve water and to restrict all non-essential water use until further notice. Customers should refrain from non-critical uses like running dishwashers and washing machines at this time.
Water Treatment Change
In addition, our water quality team is switching treatment to a form of chlorine known as “free chlorine,” which does not contain ammonia. Illinois American Water has used this stronger disinfectant in the past and made a similar, temporary switch in the fall while flushing water mains and fire hydrants. Chlorine is commonly used in public water systems as a disinfectant and is monitored closely by our water quality professionals. During the temporary treatment change, customers may experience a more noticeable chlorine taste or odor in their water. There is no reason for concern. This is due to the switch in chlorine types. Institutions with additional water purification filters for special needs, for instance Hospitals and Dialysis Centers, have been contacted about this work and are aware of the treatment change. If a customer has a health care or home health care need that requires purified or filtered water, they should reach out to their healthcare provider with any questions.