GLEN CARBON - Village workers isolated a water main break Thursday that left much of the area without water for more than 24 hours.
Village workers said it was difficult to locate the break due to recent heavy rains and some water lines run through remote areas, including under creeks. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, village officials reported that the break had been isolated and repairs were under way.
The break was east of the covered bridge on Main Street. "Right now they're digging it up to see how bad a break it is," Bowden said.
Full water service was predicted to be restored in about 18 hours, but village Administrator Jamie Bowden warned of possible delays. "If that happens, we will continue to update the residents," he said.
Bowden did not say what caused the break.
District 7 schools plan to operate as scheduled Friday, despite the threat of no water for the two Glen Carbon elementary schools. Superintendent Ed Hightower said that Madison County health officials inspected the schools Thursday to make sure that they were in compliance with health and safety recommendations.
The schools provided students bottled water, hand sanitizer and lunches that did not require water for preparation, Hightower said.
"We are pleased to report that attendance has continued to be excellent at both schools," he said. If parents chose not to send children to school, the absences will be excused, he said.
The village will distribute water to residents behind the village hall from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Residents will need to bring photo identification and a utility bill to receive one case of drinking water per household. Separate containers will be needed for non-consumable water, such as for flushing toilets.
At Mae McNamee's house, they were lucky enough to have a swimming pool. The family drew water from the pool so they could continue to flush their toilets.
"It reminds you of what people must have gone through when they had to go pump their water," McNamee said. "It's something that you take for granted ... I kept turning on the faucet even though I knew it wouldn't be there."
Her family loaded up in the car to go to a friend's house for showers, and was one of the families in line for bottled water behind the village hall Wednesday night. She said other families went to hotels, particularly if they had a lot of kids or didn't know anyone nearby.
Residents of Glen Carbon were encouraged to boil their water until further notice to kill possible contaminants.
"Once we restore the service and get everyone back on the system, they have to go take samples all over the system and test them to make sure the water meets regulations," Bowden said. That could take 72 hours.
"The village appreciates everyone's patience," he said. "This was something beyond their control. Obviously we will sit down and go over what happened, step by step, and see how we can do things better in the future."
Mayor Ron Jackstadt called it "a perfect storm" of a major water main break taking place during a major rainstorm that obscured signs of flowing water -- and at night. The 12-inch main was located under a culvert underground, which made it doubly hard to find, Jackstadt said. Once the water pressure had dropped, the public works department had to isolate section by section to find the leak and repair it, he said.
"I think they did the best they could," McNamee said. "I was a little surprised that they didn't know where the leak was coming from. When you're watching a movie, if something goes wrong you see a big screen with a red flashing problem. I guess we don't have anything like that. But they made water available, they kept everybody up to date... apparently they do havea crisis plan they put into place."
Jackstadt thanked businesses and residents for their patience. "I'm very pleased that the matter is now under control," he said.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 239-2501.