East Palestine says OK to drink water again

EAST PALESTINE – After nearly a week without fresh water village residents could return to their normal routines on Wednesday.

The mandatory boil order was lifted by village officials in the afternoon. Earlier in the day water and wastewater foreman John Jurjavcic met with an official from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The village provided water samples to the agency and Jurjavcic said the official was satisfied with their efforts to correct the problems that began last week.

On Jan. 6 water department employees began going around town to homes attempting to shut off water service to stop the leaking caused by lines frozen by the sub-zero temperatures.

According to Jurjavcic, the leaks were mostly at vacant homes and his crew had to physically climb through basement windows to get the service shut off.

How much water was lost through the leaks over the week has not been determined, although it was enough to completely deplete the two reservoirs, leading the village to shut down two wells Saturday morning. The plant has three wells, with the other out of service for a rehabilitation.

The shutdown left the entire village without water service. Residents were advised to conserve water starting with the first leaks on Jan. 6 and that conservation continues, as Jurjavcic said more water is needed in the reservoirs.

The wells were also shut down on Saturday because they were clogged up with sand and silt, and that problem was fixed over a period of about 24 hours by the water crew and local McKay and Gould Drilling and Duncan Brothers. The wells were put back into operation on Sunday, although not at full capacity.

Residents in lower-level areas began getting the service back first.

During the outage bottled water and non-potable water was available at the fire station on Clark Street. The donated water supply came in handy for the more than 1,000 people who took advantage over the weekend.

Some businesses were able to continue operations during the outage while others, like McDonald’s and Circle K, were closed. Circle K reopened its doors earlier than McDonald’s but a note on the gas station doors earlier this week cautioned customers its Polar Pops and other fountain beverages were not available since there was no fresh water.

All businesses along the main street through town appeared to be back in operation on Wednesday.

Residents were kept informed by village officials through a Facebook page specifically designed for that purpose. Within days there were already more than 1,000 “likes.”

Jurjavcic said he would like to personally thank all the village departments who assisted the water department with the problem.