The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the Cedar Rapids Water Treatment plant has issued a boil order for the city after a construction accident late this morning. It is still unclear though, how many people in Cedar Rapids are impacted. Mike Wade with the DNR says the trouble started when an outgoing water pipe was hit and broken.
He says workers shut down the pumps, but the check valve on the pump failed and the water from the construction trench back flowed into the well that holds all the water that is sent out to the city. Wade says the boil order is a precaution to prevent any possible sickness.
Wade says they haven’t found anything in the water, but there’s a high potential for problems anytime contaminated water gets into a system. He says chlorine levels stayed up in the well and hopefully samples will show by morning that any contaminants were killed by the chlorine. Wade says this is one of two water plants for the city, so it’s not exactly know how many homes would be impacted. Wade says there may be a large portion where they can lift the boil order, as they were isolated from the potential contamination.
Wade says this is a very unusual problem to have in a large system. Wade says normally these breaks happen out in the system where they can isolate and manage the number of people who’re impacted. But once it gets into the main distribution system, the impact is much bigger. The entire city is on the boil order until the plant managers determine the extent of the city that could be affected.
Residents and businesses should use an alternative source of water or boil water used for drinking or cooking, brushing teeth, food preparation. Benton County and the cities of Norway and Van Horne are served by the Cedar Rapids water system, but get their water from the plant that was not involved, so those areas are not impacted by the boil order.