UPDATE: KDHE ends boil water advisory for Emporia, Lyon County Featured

By KVOE News staff February 29, 2020 1225
UPDATE: KDHE ends boil water advisory for Emporia, Lyon County Kansas Department of Health and Environment graphic

Residents of Emporia and Lyon County are now cleared of a boil water advisory.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment made the official announcement at noon Saturday after receiving samples from the city early Friday afternoon. KDHE had issued the advisory early Wednesday afternoon after concerns about turbidity, or cloudiness in the drinking water, after heavy rain Sunday and Monday led to higher levels of cloudiness than normal in the Neosho River, Emporia’s official source for drinking water, and a roughly three-hour equipment malfunction in a Water Treatment Plant intake near the river.

This clears Emporia from the boil water advisory. It also clears Lyon County’s smaller towns and rural water districts served by Emporia:

*Admire
*Allen
*Hartford
*Olpe
*Lyon County RWD 1 (northwest and north-central Lyon County, including Americus and Bushong)
*Lyon County RWD 2 (west Lyon County, including Plymouth)
*Lyon County RWD 3 (southwest Lyon County)
*Lyon County RWD 4 (east Lyon County, including Neosho Rapids)
*Lyon County RWD 5 (northeast Lyon County)
*Park Place Communities Management
*Coffey County Rural Water District 2E

Tyson Foods, which had closed its first- and second-shift production since Thursday, will resume operations Sunday under the normal work schedule. Casa Ramos and Starbucks, both closed for most of the advisory period, have reopened. The Emporia Senior Center will be closed until Monday.

Assistant City Manager Lane Massey and Lyon County Emergency Management Director Jarrod Fell will review the boil water advisory and the local response on Monday’s Newsmaker segment at 7:15 am.

12:15 pm Friday: Emporia city officials optimistic boil water advisory may end Saturday, Chase County RWD 1 gets all-clear from KDHE

Emporia city officials are optimistic the current boil water advisory impacting Emporia and Lyon County may be resolved Saturday.


Assistant City Manager Lane Massey says turbidity, or cloudiness, levels came down past state and local guidelines overnight, so a systemwide flush began around 5 am Friday. Samples should be collected Friday morning and driven to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment lab in Topeka by early afternoon. Then it's a 24-hour wait before KDHE makes an announcement.

On KVOE's 8:05 am newscast Friday, Massey said a boil water advisory from 2018, also due to turbidity, pointed the need for communication from the city and county to residents and businesses.

Grocery stores, convenience stores and other stores around town saw their bottled water supplies disappear -- in some cases, more than once after the advisory was announced. Lyon County Emergency Management Director Jarrod Fell says the city and county will always encourage residents to follow KDHE guidance, even in cases like this where an advisory is issued instead of an order. He also says this is a far cry from the 2017 water main break near 15th and Prairie that forced a boil water order.

Several businesses have announced schedule adjustments to KVOE News. Tyson Foods, which canceled its first- and second-shift production operations Thursday and is doing likewise Friday, will do so again Saturday. Casa Ramos and Starbucks are both closed until further notice. The Emporia Senior Center, meanwhile, is now closed until Monday.

The situation developed after heavy rain Sunday and Monday led to high levels of turbidity in the Neosho River, the city's official source for drinking water. Unfortunately, there was also an equipment malfunction at the Water Treatment Plant's intake point near the river. An investigation is underway into why that failed.



Chase County Rural District No. 1 was cleared from a nearly week-long boil water advisory around 10:45 am Friday. That district has been in a boil water advisory since Monday after part of a streambank collapsed near 240th and X, taking out a 4-inch water main in the process. The district submitted its test samples Wednesday afternoon but had to wait until Friday morning for the official results.

Stay with KVOE, KVOE.com and KVOE social media for updates.

4:30 pm Thursday: Turbidity levels slow to drop, meaning Emporia/Lyon County boil water advisory may continue into weekend

It looks like it will be late Thursday or early Friday before Emporia’s drinking water system can be flushed, setting the stage for samples to be tested as a boil water advisory continues for the city and Lyon County.

Assistant City Manager Lane Massey tells KVOE News the turbidity level, or cloudiness in the water, is too high for Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines after a combination of turbid Neosho River waters and a mechanical failure at the Water Treatment Plant earlier this week. KDHE announced the boil water advisory early Wednesday afternoon.

Once the turbidity levels come down below the state guidelines, based on initial testing, the entire drinking water system will be flushed. Massey says sample collection is the next step, with up to 25 vials used around town as part of a 4- to 5-hour process. The samples are then sent to KDHE for official testing.

Massey says the city has secured an arrangement to have the KDHE testing lab open Saturday if needed, which could mean residents wouldn’t have to wait until Monday for word on whether they can return to using their water without boiling it, depending on the initial test results.

So far, the only businesses to announce schedule adjustments to KVOE News are Tyson Foods, which canceled its first- and second-shift production operations Thursday and has announced it will do likewise Friday, and Casa Ramos, which is closed until further notice. The Emporia Senior Center, meanwhile, is now closed until Monday.

Stay with KVOE, KVOE.com and KVOE social media for updates.

11 am Thursday: Emporia determining timetable for sample collection as boil water advisory continues for city, Lyon County

City leaders are determining when to collect and send water samples to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment after a boil water advisory was announced for the city and Lyon County on Wednesday.


Water Treatment Plant manager Phil Cooper tells KVOE News plant runs samples several times a day to test for chemical levels and also for turbidity, which can be an issue due to a loss of chlorine residuals and a resulting increased risk of bacterial contamination. The timetable for collecting and sending samples to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has not been set as of late Thursday morning.

The advisory was issued after a combination of events. High water from heavy rainfall Sunday and Monday led to turbidity, or abnormal cloudiness, in the Neosho River -- the city of Emporia's official drinking water supply. A mechanical failure then developed at the Water Treatment Plant near 24th and Industrial. Cooper says the flow-based equipment lost its signal for reasons still under investigation and had to be switched from automatic to manual to restart. He says that equipment was offline for several hours after showing no signs of issues earlier.

Meanwhile, water supplies are being restocked as fast as possible. Dillons corporate affairs manager Sheila Lowrie (like Lowery) says the Emporia store is well-supplied after 14 pallets were brought in Wednesday and another 12 coming Thursday. She thanked the local team and company partners for their work in meeting the need.

 

Supplies are limited in many stores and they may not be the traditional drinking water options, but drinking water is still available and more is coming soon. Country Mart has less than half a pallet of the standard 20-ounce bottles but more is likely by early afternoon, and the store has 3-gallon jugs available. Good's Cash Saver is running low on its 20-ounce bottles, while Bluestem Farm and Ranch has some 5-gallon jugs on hand. Bluestem expects a 20-ounce bottle shipment by Friday morning, while Waters Hardware expects a shipment by Thursday afternoon.

Restaurants, meanwhile, have had to discard ice from their icemakers -- and, in many cases, dump their fountain drinks or iced tea. The list of schedule adjustments is short:

*Tyson Foods' Thursday first shift and second shift canceled. Friday A-shift production canceled. A decision on B-shift production is pending.
*Emporia Senior Center closed Thursday

Officially, the advisory affects Emporia, and by extension Lyon County's smaller towns and rural water districts because Emporia supplies drinking water across the county:

*Admire
*Allen
*Hartford
*Olpe
*Lyon County RWD 1 (northwest and north-central Lyon County, including Americus and Bushong)
*Lyon County RWD 2 (west Lyon County, including Plymouth)
*Lyon County RWD 3 (southwest Lyon County)
*Lyon County RWD 4 (east Lyon County, including Neosho Rapids)
*Lyon County RWD 5 (northeast Lyon County)
*Park Place Communities Management
*Coffey County Rural Water District 2E

Affected residents are told to boil water for 60 seconds before preparing food or drinking the water. Other tips:

*Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household ice maker
*Disinfect dishes by immersing them in for at least one minute in a solution containing one teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of water. Food contact surfaces like countertops or stovetops can be disinfected using the same method
*Bathing water does not have to be boiled, but children need to be supervised so they do not accidentally drink the water

The advisory for Emporia is separate from the one affecting Chase County Rural Water District No. 1 since Monday after high water washed out a 4-inch main near 240th and X. Strong City Public Works Administrator Matt Markley says the district is awaiting test results from KDHE.

Stay with KVOE, KVOE.com and KVOE social media for more information. If you have schedule adjustments to report, call KVOE at 342-1400 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1-9 pm Wednesday: Supplies of drinking water evaporate quickly as Boil Water Advisory continues for Emporia, Lyon County's small towns and RWDs and Coffey County RWD 2E

Water has been in short supply in Emporia and across Lyon County since around 1 pm.


Understandably so, since a boil water advisory was issued for county residents and part of western Coffey County.

Many grocery stores ran out of their initial supplies -- and, in some cases, ran out again when additional shipments were brought in by early evening. Country Mart manager Sara Remple missed the first rush but was on shift for the second that developed even before a shipment was unloaded around 6 pm.

Bluestem Farm and Ranch manager Bruce Buenheide says the run on water started shortly after 1 pm at his store.

Country Mart may have more water at some point Thursday, while it may be Thursday night or Friday before Bluestem gets more bottled water.

Restaurants made their own adjustments. At Bobby D's Merchant Street Barbecue, owner Bobby Doudican says the restaurant is taking all precautions to make sure food and drink are safe.

Sonic co-manager Cathy Depaete says Sonic has had to stop serving all of its drinks due to the advisory.

At this time, Sonic is continuing to serve food as they have the necessary disinfectant materials to ensure its quality.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued the advisory after high levels of turbidity, or cloudiness, were discovered. Assistant City Manager Lane Massey tells KVOE News the heavy rain from Sunday and Monday led to higher levels of turbidity in the Neosho River, the city's official source for drinking water. Then there was a mechanical failure at the Water Treatment Plant.

Turbidity is a concern because it may result in a loss of chlorine residuals and increase the risk of bacterial contamination.

The boil water advisory affects Emporia, and by extension Lyon County's smaller towns and rural water districts because Emporia supplies drinking water across the county:

*Admire
*Allen
*Hartford
*Olpe
*Lyon County RWD 1 (northwest and north-central Lyon County, including Americus and Bushong)
*Lyon County RWD 2 (west Lyon County, including Plymouth)
*Lyon County RWD 3 (southwest Lyon County)
*Lyon County RWD 4 (east Lyon County, including Neosho Rapids)
*Lyon County RWD 5 (northeast Lyon County)
*Park Place Communities Management
*Coffey County Rural Water District 2E

Several schedule adjustments have now been announced in connection to the boil water advisory:

*Emporia Senior Center closed Thursday
*Tyson Foods first and second shifts canceled Thursday

USD 253 Emporia took several steps Wednesday to make sure food service would be uninterrupted for both Thursday and Friday. Here's Community Relations Director Lyndel Landgren:

 

Cereal, milk and juice are on the menu for breakfast Thursday, with pizza, fruit, vegetable and milk for lunch.

Affected residents are told to boil water for 60 seconds before preparing food or drinking the water. Other tips:

*Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household ice maker
*Disinfect dishes by immersing them in for at least one minute in a solution containing one teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of water. Food contact surfaces like countertops or stovetops can be disinfected using the same method
*Bathing water does not have to be boiled, but children need to be supervised so they do not accidentally drink the water

For any pets you may own, there should be no inherent risk for drinking the water. East Emporia Veterinary Clinic provides this advice saying that if you want to be extra precautious for your pets, you can boil their drinking water as you would for yourself.

The advisory for Emporia is separate from the one affecting Chase County Rural Water District No. 1 since Monday after high water washed out a 4-inch main near 240th and X. Strong City Public Works Administrator Matt Markley says the district took official water samples Wednesday and sent those to KDHE. He's hoping to have an all-clear announcement before the weekend.

Stay with KVOE, KVOE.com and KVOE social media for more information. If you have schedule adjustments to report, call KVOE at 342-1400 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Map of Lyon County rural water districts courtesy Kansas Rural Water Association

Chuck Samples, Tagan Trahoon and Devon Swartz contributed to this report.

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Last modified on Saturday, 29 February 2020 19:09