A cracked line started a chain reaction of water woes in Goessel last week that lasted several days, and reminded several residents what they were thankful for.
“Late Sunday evening (Sept. 9) I got a call that we had a problem,” city maintenance director Karen Dalke said. “The first line cracked because of dry ground shifting, we think. There really is no way to know.”
Dalke called in a trenching crew Sept. 10 to evaluate the problem at the intersection of Church and Main. She shut off water service to the entire city on Monday as workers created a plan of action and gathered the necessary repair parts.
At 7 a.m. Sept. 11 Dalke and Will Kaufman barricaded off the problem area and began digging. They installed a shut off valve allowing the east side of the city to have water, but not the west side.
The job took longer than anyone expected, creating issues for some residents who were not sure when or if water service would be restored that night.
“At Bethesda where I work, we knew there wouldn’t be water so we planned ahead and stored water for use in the kitchen,” said Denise Woelk, who lives with her family on North Church Street. “At home we thought it might be on late in the afternoon, but then it was changed to 7 p.m. and then 10 p.m. We finally gave up waiting to take a bath and went to bed.”
City Clerk Anita Goertzen said the reason water remained off until late Sept. 11 for some residents was because after the first break was fixed, several more problems erupted, literally.
“When they turned the water back on around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the hammer pressure in the lines blew out several holes in the same line along Main Street, but this time in front of the Ratzlaff Building,” she said. “The crew went back to work that night yet.”
Water service from the fire station and west was off sporadically all day on Wednesday due to the repair work.
Those needing to use bathrooms or showers on Tuesday and Wednesday were invited to go to the Mennonite Heritage and Agriculture Grounds building by Jim and Connie Wiens who opened the facility.
Goertzen said she also opened up city building bathrooms and water fountains for those needing water during the repair time.
“It really wasn’t that big of a deal for us,” Woelk said. “It just made me realize how much I take for granted I can just turn on the faucet and have water whenever I want it.
Goertzen said the week’s water woes made her appreciate the amenities of modern life.
“I would much rather have a lack of water than electricity,” she said. “But I’d rather not be without either one.”
Barricades remain in place along Goessel’s Main Street on the Church Street corner, in front of the Ratzlaff Building and the post office on Main, and they will for some time, Goertzen said.
“People have to understand that the dirt moved around the new shut-off valves has to settle before we can pack it all up,” she said. “It could be several more weeks before we can take down the barricades, so people need to make sure not to drive there.”
Dalke said six new shut-off valves were installed so that in the future so many people will not need to be without water if there is a line break.
Goessel Junior High and High School students enjoyed a day off from classes Sept. 11 because of no water, but elementary students had school as usual. Both schools were in session Sept. 12.
Life continues as usual in Goessel, except that the barricades on the corner of Church Street and Main Street make the usual school bus and parents-picking-up-children turnaround a little more difficult.
“A majority of the people were very understanding of what needed to transpire to get this fixed,” Goertzen said. “I think it made all of us appreciate just a little more what we often take for granted.”