City, county say company handled water outage well
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Representatives of Jefferson City and Cole County said Tuesday's water outage was handled well by Missouri American officials, but the company could focus more on replacing the older infrastructure in the system.
On Tuesday morning, a pipe broke at Missouri American's treatment plant on West Main Street, leaving much of the city without water until about 1 p.m. A boil order then was in effect until around 9 p.m. Wednesday. The part of the system that failed was a more than 90-year-old relief valve system.
City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said he was very pleased with the city's response to the outage, but Missouri American may need to look at reinvesting revenue back into its infrastructure.
Nickolaus said the city has pushed Missouri American to make upgrades to the infrastructure, though those pushes were mostly focused on the lines under the streets throughout Jefferson City.
"We had not really pushed for them to update their main plant," Nickolaus said. "I guess we were not as familiar with what the age of the infrastructure in that plant was."
Missouri American recently invested $12 million to improve aging equipment to increase its ability to get water out of the Missouri River. The company has said the outage has not affected its improvement plans or hastened the work schedule.
He said there haven't been any discussions within the city about pushing Missouri American to undertake those infrastructure projects sooner, though he said he suspects those discussions will happen in the coming months.
Bill Farr, Cole County emergency management director, said Missouri American did a good job handling the water outage. He said the company had a plan in place and executed it quickly, bringing in workers from the St. Louis area to help repair the pipe and flush out any bacteria so the boil order could be lifted as quickly as possible.
"All in all, I think they did real well," Farr said. "It could have been a lot worse."
Farr said the company already had agreements in place with neighboring water districts to help keep hospitals operating during the outage, and they worked with Farr's department to get bottled water to area schools.
Farr said meetings are planned in the near future with area hospitals to see what could be done differently in future situations to help them keep operating as normally as possible.