Steamboat Springs A malfunction at Hayden's water plant Sunday meant weekend chores such as washing the car and watering the lawn had to be put on hold.
The malfunction halted the production of drinking water, and the town had to rely on the water remaining in the 1 million gallon storage tank on top of Hospital Hill. That supply can go fast, especially during the dog days of summer when water usage is at its peak. The restrictions were lifted Monday morning after water quality was brought back to within acceptable levels.
The plant supplies water to the town of Hayden as well as the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, and the town had to make sure there was enough water in case of an emergency.
"They don't want to take any chances because if there was a fire, it's so dry that they want all that for fire," Hayden Police Chief Jody Lenahan said.
West Routt Fire Protection District firefighters had been called to a brush fire south of town just hours before the water plant went out. They believe the fire started by sparks from a transformer and the fire was extinguished quickly, Lenahan said. He said they are lucky the fire did not occur while the plant was down.
"It could have been a catastrophe," Lenahan said.
Word spread quickly through-
out town that there was a problem at the plant. Police went door-to-door and told people to turn off their sprinklers. Owners of the two laundry mats and the carwash closed the businesses to conserve water.
Additionally, calls were made simultaneously to 921 phone numbers located within one mile of the town.
The Emergency Public Network system allowed Routt County Emergency Management director Chuck Vale to relay a prerecorded message urging people to conserve water.
"It's a tool used to advise citizens of any public news," Vale said.
The calls were made to people in a 911 database that is compiled by Quest. Of the calls that were placed, 86 percent were answered by either a person or answering machine, Vale said. Some people might have ignored the call because it appeared on caller I.D. with a 303 area code, Vale said.
The reverse 911 tool has been tested in Hayden, but this is the first time it has been implemented.
Vale said there are still bugs to work out, but the system is a valuable tool for just this sort of emergency.