The water is back on!
According to the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office, who spoke with the Central Shoshone Water District (CSWD), the water for the district was turned back on at 8:30 p.m.
Kellogg should begin to receive water around 10:30 p.m. and Osburn around midnight.
This whole saga began sometime on Tuesday evening when a CSWD water main line broke causing the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River to appear like it was boiling nearing five feet in the air, just a few feet from the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s Pinehurst Trailhead.
The break has left residents from Smelterville to Osburn without running water as the reserve tanks finally ran out during the waning hours of Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
CSWD employees responded to the scene immediately to assess the situation and began the process of securing materials and personnel to get to work.
“I have been down here since 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning,” CSWD assistant manager Chad Nelson said early Thursday. “But a lot of the guys that we have here have been working non-stop since we began.”
Reportedly, the situation began when old sections of the water main that ran beneath the river had a concrete block that held the two sections of the pipe in place finally eroded away enough to allow the old pipe to separate which allowed the pressurized water to pump into the river instead of reaching the homes and businesses it is designed to serve.
CSWD employees as well as contractors have removed the old broken section of pipe and have replaced it with over 100 feet of new 24-inch standard water main.
The system was initially installed by the Bunker Hill Mining Company over 40 years ago, but was an antiquated system according to local contractors, but due to its continued functionality as well as the massive costs that would go into replacing the system it has been left alone until now.
Jeff Nearing with DG&S Co., the general contractor who quickly assembled a team to respond to the CSWD’s call, discussed how the situation, which already is very inconvenient, could have been worse if the break had happened last month when the entire area they are working in was under several feet of floodwater.
“If this had happened four or five weeks ago we may have been without water for a few weeks instead of just a day or so,” Nearing said. “There is no way we could have gotten in here to repair the issue with the flooding that was going on.”
Even with the water at a more manageable depth now, the crews have had to utilized multiple pumps to keep out the water that was seeping from the river into their newly dug ditch.
Following the repair and refilling of the pipe, the DEQ is required to test the water continuously to ensure that water reaches the quality necessary.
The CWSD has issued a boil ordinance for its customers in conjunction with the Panhandle Health District.
The water service areas of Page, Smelterville, Kellogg, Wardner, Montgomery Gulch Elizabeth Park, Big Creek, Sunny Slopes, and Osburn are affected. You may want to seek medical attention If you experience symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches if you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant are elderly, or are at any increased risk for illness. Disinfection, flushing, and testing are expected to be completed through Monday and consumers will be notified when water is safe to drink. Phone call should be directed to the central Shoshone County Water District office at 208-786-9141, or to the Department of Environmental Quality at 208-769-1422.