Phippsburg may have to wait until Monday for safe water

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Despite two new pumps to power their water system, Phippsburg residents and businesses likely will have to wait until Monday until they can drink their tap water.

Mike Zopf, director of Routt County’s Department of Environmental Health, confirmed Friday afternoon that crews successfully replaced the two water pumps that failed Thursday afternoon and shut down Phippsburg’s municipal water supply. But health regulations require that water quality testing not be done until the system — including the unincorporated town’s 50,000-gallon storage tank — is completely filled. Once the testing is complete and the results are certified by the state, the system must be emptied and refilled again, Zopf said.

“I don’t feel there’s been any contamination of the system, but these are precautionary measures required by the state,” he said.

Those delays mean it probably will be Monday before folks in the small South Routt community can safely consume water from their faucets. However, they can begin using their toilets as soon as water starts flowing from their taps Friday afternoon, Zopf said. Residents and businesses also can boil water for consumptive use. For complete instructions, click here.

Bottled water is being made available for Phippsburg residents at the post office, Zopf said. He said the supply of bottled water will be restocked Saturday and possibly Sunday, as needed.

Zopf said a voltage issue appears to be the cause of the pump failure. He said Yampa Valley Electric Association crews replaced a fuse Friday, and two new pumps were purchased and installed by B & J Pump & Well Service after Zopf picked up the pumps in Kremmling late Friday morning.

The pumps were installed and operating by about 4 p.m. Friday and were quickly pumping 100 gallons of water per minute back into the town’s water system.

The county used a reverse 911 call Thursday afternoon to alert Phippsburg residents to the water outage, but because many people no longer use landlines, it was difficult to reach everyone, Zopf said.

Zopf said officials circulated a public notice Friday afternoon updating residents on the situation and providing instructions on how to properly boil water for consumptive use. Another notice will be distributed door to door once the water is safe to drink again.

Phippsburg’s well field is east of town across the Yampa River on property owned by the Iacovettos. Zopf said the well is 20 feet deep and is fed by horizontal arms that collect water and pipe it to the gallery. The water is then pumped to a nearby treatment facility and then up to the town’s water storage tank, which uses gravity to deliver the treated water to the 120 residential and commercial taps that rely on the system.

The Phippsburg Water and Sanitation District is an enterprise fund operated by Routt County. It is overseen by the county commissioners and Zopf. The water and sanitation district is managed by Scott Smith.

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