A precautionary boil advisory was issued Wednesday for many Missouri American Water customers in a part of Jefferson City after two water main breaks.
Missouri American spokesman Brian Russell said a 12-inch water main on Southwest Boulevard, used to fill Missouri American's water tank on Ellis Boulevard, broke Tuesday night.
Work crews repaired that break and began pumping water into the tank. However, as that was taking place, a second break on Southwest occurred and crews had to stop the pumping to fill the tank.
Crews had to work throughout the night to fix the second break on Southwest and were unable to fill the tank on Ellis like they normally would do. Because of this, many
customers in the area of Southwest Boulevard had little or no water pressure Wednesday morning.
Russell said a boil advisory would be posted until the tank on Ellis could be refilled.
According to a map from Missouri American on its website and Facebook page, the area affected by the boil advisory stretched from South Country Club Drive to the west to Lorenzo Greene and Moreau drives to the east, and was about as wide as the area between West Edgewood Drive to the north and Ellis Boulevard to the south — though the area around Hough Park was also affected.
According to Missouri American's website alert on the boil advisory, "We are asking customers to bring their water to a rolling boil for three minutes before using it for drinking or cooking. Tap water is okay for washing and bathing. We will take water quality samples in the area today. The precautionary boil water advisory will be in effect until water quality samples confirm the water remains safe for consumption. Precautionary boil water advisories normally last about 48 hours. We will call you again when the boil water advisory has been lifted. For more information, please visit our website at www.missouriamwater.com or our Facebook page."
Russell said about 5,500 customers were in the affected area — roughly half of all Missouri American customers in Jefferson City. He said full water service was restored at 11:22 a.m. Wednesday.
"Our crews determined it was aging infrastructure that caused the breaks," Russell said.
A news release last week from Missouri American that announced $1.45 million would be invested in five infrastructure upgrade projects in Jefferson City did not include Southwest Boulevard, but the release noted some of the water mains in the company's Jefferson City system that would be replaced date to before World War II.
Russell said they have sent off samples of the water for testing and should know by noon or 1 p.m. today if the boil advisory can be lifted.
"We ask for people's patience, but unfortunately this is the nature of our business, sometimes," Russell said.
Several public and private Jefferson City schools and daycare centers and health facilities were particularly affected:
Helias Catholic High School — Due to the loss of water pressure, Helias Catholic High School canceled classes Wednesday.
Sandy Hentges, Helias' director of communications, said school would resume with normal hours today.
"We have told all the coaches that they could go ahead and have practice tonight," Hentges said earlier Wednesday of afterschool activities that night, but added coaches were also told they would have to supply their own water and would not have bathroom facilities — though they could also practice elsewhere.
Hentges said Missouri American had dropped off approximately 1,000 bottles of water for students to use today, that Helias already had 1,200 bottles of its own stocked up and students would be encouraged to bring their own water to school.
She said the lost day of classes would be handled just like one of the three snow days built into the school's schedule.
Capital Region Medical Center — Russell said Capital Region Medical Center on Madison Street would also be affected by the advisory, but they never lost pressure and had full water service for their facility.
The Capital Region Medical Center Southwest Campus located at 1432 Southwest Blvd. was without water, according to a news release from Capital Region at about 8:50 a.m. Wednesday.
The Sam B. Cook Healthplex and Capital Region Physicians-Family Care facilities — the latter located at 1500 Southwest Blvd. — closed Wednesday because of the water issues, according to the Capital Region news release, which added another alert would be provided upon reopening of the Healthplex.
Jefferson City Public Schools — Jefferson City Public Schools announced at noon that two of its elementary schools in the impacted area were under the precautionary boil water advisory.
The boil advisory affects South and Moreau Heights elementary schools. Three other JCPS buildings — Cedar Hill and Lawson elementary schools and Thomas Jefferson Middle School — are also located within the impacted area, but are not affected because they are not serviced by Missouri American, according to a news release from Ryan Burns, JCPS director of communications.
"Immediate precautions have been taken to eliminate access to drinking water," the JCPS news release said of steps taken at the affected schools. "As today is an early release day for the district, JCPS has measures in place to provide bottled water as needed for the remainder of the school day. Measures will be in place to provide bottled water to impacted schools tomorrow as well, if needed."
JCPS also confirmed Missouri American had offered to deliver bottled water to the affected schools, and the school district had taken them up on that offer — 1,600 bottles in total or 800 each for South and Moreau Heights.
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JCPS said it would continue to monitor the situation and would remain in contact with Missouri American, providing more information if anything changes.
Other schools, daycares and health facilities — Capital City Christian Church announced on its Facebook page that the church's office and child care center had been closed for the day Wednesday, and its middle and high school afterschool programs had been cancelled. Calls by the News Tribune to the church and staff about the status of today's hours and activities were not immediately answered.
Jefferson City YMCA announced Wednesday morning that the Firley YMCA would close at 9:15 a.m.
A later email from the YMCA said the Firley Y would reopen at 5 p.m., but because of the boil order, water fountains would not be available for use until Friday afternoon, so patrons would need to bring their own water. The email added the nursery would be open.
Trinity Lutheran School said it had purchased bottled water for its students and had told them to bring bottled water to school today. The school said it was unaware Missouri American had offered bottled water to other schools.
Little Explorers Discovery Center said it was boiling its water, but remained open Wednesday and would be open today. The daycare also said parents would not have to provide water for their children today.