Photo by Mike Lawrence
Theresa Kelliher, of the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, right, talks with Oak Creek resident J.D. Fuchs about the town’s Saturday night water leak. Free water was distributed to residents Sunday at the Main Street fire station. At left, Dusty Schrader, of the fire district, looks on as Theresa’s daughter, Megan, hands water to James Singleton.
Theresa Kelliher of the Oak Creek Fire Protection District said the town's water break over the weekend is “a perfect example” of why residents should sign up for Routt County’s “CodeRED” program, which provides alerts in emergencies through multiple formats, including e-mail, cell phones and landlines.
To sign up, visit Routt County’s website at www.co.routt.co.us, and click on the “click here to enroll” link. Call the Main Street fire station at 970-736-8104 with questions.
Oak Creek Oak Creek residents are advised to boil all town water used for drinking and cooking after a leaking valve drained the town’s storage tank and cut off service for about four hours Saturday night.
Oak Creek Fire Chief Chuck Wisecup said the leaking valve was repaired late Saturday and early Sunday. Wisecup said the entire town had water service restored by early Sunday afternoon. Wisecup said he expects the boil alert to last until Tuesday morning as crews treat and test the system.
Fire crews handed out bottled water — one case per household — Sunday at the Oak Creek Fire Protection District station on Main Street. Fire district spokeswoman Theresa Kelliher said families can pick up another case of water today at the fire station, from 8 a.m. until about 6 p.m.
Portable toilets also are available on Main Street. Wisecup said residents can use town water for showering and toilet-flushing. Water should be boiled before consumption, cooking or teeth-brushing.
“They can use it for cooking, and they can use it for drinking, it just needs to be boiled for one minute at a hard boil,” Wisecup said.
South Routt School District Superintendent Scott Mader said school will be held today at Soroco Middle School and Soroco High School.
“We’re going to have school, and we’re going to have bottled water and shut down the drinking fountains,” Mader said. “We’ll have plenty of water there.”
Students can bring their own bottled water, as well. Mader said hot lunch will be served, with a meal that doesn’t require water for cooking — possibly French toast, he said.
Water will be brought in from out of town for potential needs such as washing vegetables, he said.
Wisecup said acidic soil corroded bolts off a valve between the town’s water treatment plant and its supply reservoir, which is about two miles southwest of town on Routt County Road 25.
“By the time the alarms went off, the large storage tank was all but empty,” Wisecup said. “The town was out of water, some parts of town, for probably four hours.”
Town residents were notified of the boil alert through a reverse-911 telephone call.
The fire chief said his home on Williams Street ran out of water by about 8:30 p.m. Saturday but had service restored by about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Other residents cited a similar timeframe for service cut-offs and resumption.
Wisecup said the town’s large storage tank was refilled overnight and that Oak Creek should not see a water shortage or rationing. He said crews located another leaky valve that will be fixed later this week.
At the fire station, Kelliher said residents had been understanding so far, and she’d heard more concerns than complaints. Kelliher said those who drank town water Sunday morning before learning of the boiler alert do not have significant reason to worry.
“We’ve been informed that the risk is minimal, if at all,” she said, adding that the town’s water is treated, but state regulations require the testing period and precautions after a break in service.
Wisecup said crews expect to test the restored water through today and Tuesday.
“The boil alert probably won’t be lifted until Tuesday morning,” he said.
On Sunday at Chelsea’s Restaurant on Main Street, owner Andy Benjamin said the water leak caused him to stop to-go orders and conserve water Saturday night, but overall, it did not significantly disrupt business.
Benjamin said Oak Creek had a smaller water break Tuesday that cut off service on one street in town. He praised public works staff for putting in a lot of hours lately.
“Our infrastructure is absolutely crumbling — it’s amazing what our public works can do and how hard those guys work,” he said.
At Chelsea’s bar, the Sunday buffet was going strong while locals watched the Denver Broncos play the Indianapolis Colts. Bar manager Nate Brothers said the water break didn’t raise too many hairs in town.
“It’s Oak Creek,” Brothers said with a shrug. “People don’t get too worked up about things down here.”