A water main break affected the village of Glen Carbon and began to affect Edwardsville residents Wednesday afternoon, as crews from both towns searched for the cause.
Low water pressure began Wednesday morning, so village officials issued a boil order, a standard procedure.
By 5 p.m., village workers had not found the source of the break. Village Administrator Jamie Bowden said they have managed to clear half the village and restore service.
Water service was restored for residents in Glenwood Estates, Crystal View, Sommerset and Old Town west of Meridian Road.
"Obviously, it's not a good situation," he said. Finding the leak has been complicated by the heavy rains, he said, though village workers believe it is located somewhere along the main water line near the Heritage Bike Trail.
Areas south of the bike trail, except Nottingham Estates, were still without water at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
"It is unusual for the public works department not to be able to locate and isolate a water main break," Bowden said in a release Wednesday. "Glen Carbon, however, has many locations where large water mains cross creeks, farm fields and remote areas."
However, the break drained Glen Carbon's water storage and began to drain the Edwardsville system, said Edwardsville city Administrator Ben Dickmann.
Edwardsville Public Works Director Tim Harr ordered cutbacks in the flow to Glen Carbon's system to protect Edwardsville's water. Emergency interconnects are still providing water to Glen Carbon, while workers monitor the Edwardsville system to ensure water supply remains strong.
Veolia Water, the firm contracted to staff and manage Edwardsville's utility plants, will have workers on duty overnight to directly monitor water levels, Dickmann said. Edwardsville has offered personnel and equipment to assist Glen Carbon if needed, he said.
Meanwhile, Edwardsville Fire Chief Rick Welle acquired a 3,000-gallon water tanker from Holiday Shores. Edwardsville firefighters were on standby to respond with Glen Carbon to any reported fires.
Both buildings for the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon YMCA offered hot showers to those in need, said Director Gary Niebur, as they are unaffected by the water shortage. "Both (buildings) have been extremely busy welcoming members and non-members and making our locker rooms and showers available to all," he said.
Glen Carbon residents remained under the boil order Wednesday evening, due to the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of water pressure loss.
All village water customers were encouraged to boil water for five minutes prior to using for drinking or food preparation. Ice cubes made after the water main break Wednesday morning should be discarded.
The village distributed drinking water to residents on Wednesday behind the village hall and will continue to do so on Thursday. Photo ID and a utility bill will be required, and one case of drinking water per household will be provided. Separate containers will be needed for non-consumable water, such as flushing toilets.
District 7 schools were open as usual Wednesday, despite continuing water problems at Cassens and Glen Carbon elementary schools. Superintendent Ed Hightower said the district was able to provide ample supplies of drinking water and alternative meals in the cafeteria that did not rely on the water supply, as well as hand sanitizer and sufficient water to flush toilets.
"We hope that this situation will be rectified as soon as possible," Hightower said.
School will be open Thursday whether or not the water system is repaired; Hightower urged parents to send their children to school. Attendance was normal Wednesday, he said.
Edwardsville residents were not under a boil order as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. Unrelated to Glen Carbon, there was a minor water main break Wednesday in the 400 block of Buena Vista Street, but it was located and repaired, Dickmann said.
Glen Carbon residents will receive updates via the Code Red emergency notification system, village-wide email and the village website at glen-carbon.il.us, Bowden said.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org.