Yampa water advisory still in place

Official: Residents should use bottled water until Thursday evening at "the earliest"

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For updates and information about Yampa's drinking water, call Yampa Town Hall at 638-4511. For elementary school updates, call the South Routt School District at 736-2313. Call the Environmental Protection Agency's safe drinking water hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

— Yampa residents should continue using bottled water for most purposes until this evening at "the earliest," a town official said Wednesday.

Eric Berry, the town's public works superintendent, said he is working with Routt County's environmental health department to run bacteria tests on the town's water, after a break in the main line into town Monday night. Berry said a crack in the seam of the cast-iron pipe caused the leak, which is repaired, but the town's water will not be safe for consumption until the tests are completed.

"The earliest right now that will happen would be Thursday evening," Berry said Wednesday.

Residents should use bottled water for drinking, food preparation, brushing teeth, making ice and most uses until further notice.

Bottled water is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Yampa Town Hall, 56 Lincoln St.

South Routt Elementary School is closed today.

Mike Zopf, director of Routt County environmental health, said Wednesday that he received one report of a man who showered in town water and said high chlorine levels irritated his skin.

Zopf said residents should not take showers with town water until the water system is cleared for public use.

"I think the town has done an exceptional job in getting the repairs done in a timely manner, and going through the disinfecting procedure," Zopf said. "The last thing we want to do is rush this into service too soon."

Berry said he doesn't know for sure what caused the leak, which he first learned of at about 9:30 p.m. Monday after a report of low water pressure. Berry said he then checked the town's water tank, about a mile south of Yampa, and found it empty. After the tank did not refill in the time he expected, Berry said, he saw water in a hayfield between the tank and the town and knew he had a leak.

He said cast-iron pipes such as the town's water line have a history of breaking.

"They're known to crack on the seam, and that's exactly what happened," he said. "I don't know if there's any external cause - the pipe decided to fail at this time, I guess."

Berry said he's seen similar problems before.

"This isn't the first time it's happened to the town of Yampa and it won't be the last, probably," Berry said.

Jason Striker, a specialist with the Routt County Department of Environmental Health, said Tuesday town residents will have some water pressure in their homes - enough to flush toilets, for example - but should not consume the water.

Boiling, freezing, filtering or letting the water stand will not reduce possible contaminant levels, Striker wrote in a water advisory. He emphasized that water should not be given to infants.

The water may contain bacteria or other disease-causing organisms that could cause short-term effects such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and headaches, the advisory stated. Anyone experiencing such symptoms should seek medical advice, he said.

Zopf said residual chlorine could remain in some pipes after the go-ahead is given to use Yampa water.

"People should, once this is over:be flushing their own lines," Zopf said. "That would mean running water through every fixture in their home until they can no longer smell the obvious smell of chlorine:or for five minutes, for example."

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