EAST BRADY – A boil water advisory was issued Saturday, Jan. 13 for water customers in the East Brady, Rimersburg and Petrolia areas, after the East Brady water system may have been compromised by flood waters.
East Brady Borough secretary Susan Buechele explained on Monday that wells 2 and 3 may have been affected by significant flooding last Friday evening.
“We couldn’t get to wells 2 and 3,” Buechele said, noting that the borough stopped pumping water from those two wells when the flooding began. “We had to assume that ground water may have gotten in.”
Because East Brady couldn’t know for sure whether or not the water system had been contaminated, Buechele continued, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommended that the borough err on the side of caution and advise its water customers to boil their water before they drink it.
“We are being overly precautious just so no one gets sick,” she said, adding that the boil water advisory was issued to all East Brady water customers — including the Rimersburg service area and Petroleum Valley Regional Water Authority, which purchase bulk water from East Brady for their customers. “It is certainly an inconvenience for all of us, but we can’t be too careful.”
According to Buechele, East Brady must get the go-ahead from DEP and complete two days of “good testing” before the boil water advisory can be lifted. Due to the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, however, DEP could not meet until Tuesday to give the green light for testing.
While it remains unclear how long the advisory will be in effect, Buechele said it could be as late as Friday before it can be lifted.
Due to the boil water advisory, Union School District implemented an early dismissal for Tuesday while it waits for word from the state Department of Agriculture on whether or not school lunches can be served safely with the advisory in place.
“Since breakfast and lunch are not being served, we wanted to send the students home with an early dismissal before or shortly after lunch time,” Union superintendent Jean McCleary said of the decision to release students early, noting that the holiday also prevented the district from getting answers from the state on Monday.
The advisory affects students and employees at the high school and Rimersburg Elementary. Sligo Elementary was not affected because its water comes from Clarion.
Although the schools can operate with running water “as long as precautions are taken,” McCleary said the Department of Agriculture’s response regarding food preparation will determine whether the district can hold a full day of school and serve meals or continue with early dismissals over the next few days.
“The rest of the week will be determined in the future,” she said. “We are taking one day at a time.”
In the meantime, McCleary has followed the policies and procedures for a water boil advisory according to the district’s Crisis Procedures and Mobile Emergency Management Plan (MERP).
As part of the plan, McCleary said bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap were purchased and placed in hand washing stations, along with posters demonstrating the proper washing procedures during the advisory. Additionally, bags were placed over the schools’ water fountains with signs indicating the fountains were not usable at this time due to the boil water advisory.
The district also purchased bottled water for student and employee consumption at the high school and Rimersburg Elementary until the advisory is lifted.
Residents in Rimersburg Borough were notified that they should not drink their water without boiling it first just before 11 a.m. on Jan. 13.
A notice on the borough’s website states that “under a boil water advisory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that water be brought to a rolling boil for one minute before it is consumed in order to kill protozoa, bacteria and viruses.”
According to the website, boil water advisory fact sheets are available at the borough office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or online at www.rimersburgborough.com. Fact sheets will also be available outside the borough office door in the event the office is closed.
Updates regarding the advisory will be posted on the Rimersburg Borough website, ExploreClarion, KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV, WPXI-TV and the borough office voicemail at (814) 473-6519 after hours.
East Brady residents will receive updates on the advisory from the borough’s Public Alert software.