Pinehurst requests Emergency Declaration

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It's official: Pinehurst has requested a state of emergency due to water issues.

“Since at least Jan. 15, 2017, many citizens of the city of Pinehurst who are served water by the Pinehurst Water District, have been without water due to a combination of frozen water mains, main laterals, and service lines. This is a public health emergency and additional action beyond the District’s means will be required. The District requests the Shoshone County Commissioners declare an emergency on the District’s behalf.”

That statement is from the city of Pinehurst and the Pinehurst Water District’s (PWD) declaration of emergency filed with the Shoshone County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) on Friday.

The declaration outlines several of the city’s water issues and gives a detailed description of what they are facing.

Explained in the proposed Declaration of Emergency request, approximately 21 residences and five businesses, including the local library, are currently without water.

They have been without for at least 25 days since the district was first made aware on Jan. 15.

The record amounts of fall rain, mixed with the extreme cold and wet winter has caused the 50-year-old system to freeze up, leading to several different issues.

One of the biggest issues the city faces is the frozen ground and how it is impossible to know when it will be thawed enough for maintenance crews to assess what needs to be repaired.

Pinehurst and its Water District also simply do not have the manpower necessary to handle a situation of this magnitude, which is why the declaration is important.

“The District operating and administrative staff consists of only two people for a population of approximately 1880 people. This crisis has overwhelmed the personnel resources who still have routine water system responsibilities,” the declaration outlines.

Financially, the crisis has already forced the district to go over its budget by $5,000 and operation costs will continue to grow for as long as the district has to operate under these conditions, including the costs of engineering and construction on these emergency events.

As of now, the district has maintained a working relationship with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) during this crisis, done their own investigation of the lines, declared a boil advisory, educated the citizens on water health and safety, and put in place several measures to make sure that every one without water has access to some sort of water supply; be it through city-provided water or having neighbors hose water over to residences that currently don’t have any.

The district is working to select a consultant engineer to assist with the project of repairing the lines and is looking to secure emergency funding from the Idaho Department of Commerce and the United States of Agriculture’s Rural Development Department for expected design and construction costs.

The district is also looking for support personnel to help with leak detection, pipe inspection, and message assistance to inform customers.

As for the Emergency Declaration, PWD expects the BOCC to approve the request on Monday, Feb. 13.

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