Pressure coming up despite new water line break

EAST PALESTINE – A water main break on James Avenue near Brookdale caused even more water loss to the village’s system Monday, but it wasn’t enough to warrant another shutdown.

Water and wastewater foreman John Jurjavcic said the break was “major” but that the two water wells put back online Sunday are still working and one of the two reservoirs is getting some water back.

“The pressure gauge showed we had roughly 12 pounds of pressure. There is 27 feet of water in the tank, so it’s a third of the way full,” he said.

The reservoirs were depleted after water leaks over the week that began as a result of below-zero temperatures freezing lines. A good portion of the leaks were at vacant homes, and in some cases water employees were actually going into the homes through windows to get the water shut off.

A sprinkler system malfunction at an area business also lowered water levels significantly.

The village shut down the two wells on Saturday to conserve water, and also after finding sand and silt had also clogged the well screens.

“The production was down and it wasn’t giving us enough water to push through the plant. In turn we couldn’t make any water to put out through the system. Everything is back online right now, but we just have to replenish the reservoirs,” he said.

The village is slowly getting water back – mostly to lower level areas – but some places remain without water, and the boil order is still in effect.

Jurjavcic said people should continue to conserve until told otherwise.

Councilwoman Endia Wisser, who chairs the utility committee, said she met with Jurjavcic, Village Manager Pete Monteleone, and Councilman Don Elzer earlier Monday to discuss the situation.

“There was a lot of hearsay,” she said, referring to people blaming the outage on a variety of factors, including pointing fingers at certain people.

The village set up an informational Facebook page specifically to keep residents up to date and away from misinformation, she said.

Monteleone also mentioned the page, and said it was created upon the suggestion of Elzer and his wife, Dianna.

The page is

Jurjavcic said the plant system should be back to normal by the end of the week and residents are allowed to bathe now. When the wells were shut down Saturday residents were told not to use water except for an emergency. Non-potable water was available at the fire station on Clark Street for flushing toilets and other uses.

Fire Chief Brett Todd said after the meeting bottled water is still available at the station for anyone in need.

“There is more than enough water left,” he said.

In addition to water donated by the Salem Walmart and Giant Eagles in Boardman and Chippewa, Pa., the local Sparkle Market also donated bottled water. All water was sent to the fire station for a central pickup location for residents, who turned out in droves over the weekend.

“It’s been a real hard couple of days for the employees and the water and wastewater departments,” Monteleone said. “They have worked very hard.”

The fire and police departments, local businesses and residents came together to help get water out to everyone in need, with some volunteers spending hours at a time at the station.

Todd put in more than 10 hours at the station on Sunday alone. He also thanked everyone for their support.

“The generosity was great, it made it a whole lot easier,” he said.

Jurjavcic said he should know the cost of repairing/cleaning the wells within the next week. He was unable to estimate how much water was lost, although a typical reference is about 20 gallons per minute for a water leak.

“If you’ve got four or five leaks that’s 150 gallons a minute out of your system,” he said.

The sprinkler system malfunction alone probably amounted to 400 gallons a minute, he added, although how long the malfunction lasted was not known.

In addition to the water main break on Monday the water department also responded to a small leak on East Taggart Street, he said.

Those problems were corrected.

East Palestine students were scheduled to return to school today after having Monday off because of the outage.

District Superintendent George Fisk met with village officials early Monday and was at the council meeting.

He did not speak during the meeting but said afterward “everything is good to go” at the school buildings and students have access to hand sanitizing stations.