A water main break has West Union residents drinking bottled water. (KCRG TV photo)

Residents of West Union in northeast Iowa will have to wait at least one more day before they can drink the city’s tap water following a water main break this past weekend.

West Union Water Superintendent, Andy Larson, tells KCRG TV the source of the break can be found deep in a cornfield off in the pipe to the town’s water tower. “It was a major break — the biggest break I’ve seen,” Larson says. Larson said while the city has temporarily rerouted water around the site of the break, residents should still avoid drinking what comes out of their faucets as they await tests to be performed on their water by the state hygienic lab.

The results of the tests are expected to be known on Wednesday. “We’re going to have to replace about a three, four-foot section of pipe and then we’ve got to pass some bacteria tests and stuff to put it all back in service,” Larson says.

The cause of the break is not known but Larson says it was likely due to aging pipes and he says the way the pipes were installed could lead to future problems. “A lot of the water mains back in the day were just laid on dirt and soil, and not bedded on rock,” he explains, “so I think that’s a big part of it.”

Residents rushed to local stores after the announcement to stock up on bottles of water that were safe. Jim Corkery, the manager of Quillin’s Quality Foods says keeping water on his store’s shelves has been no easy task in the wake of the water main break. He told KCRG TV Monday that he was working on keeping up with the demand.

“We have a few containers left, but we have a lot more coming,” Corkery said. He says they have more pallets of water on the way. Corkery said running a grocery store that has a deli without running water does further complicate matters for his business.
He said they did have some extra water stored in jugs in the back room that they are using to make their fresh products.

West Union is in Fayette County and has a population of around 2,500.