Peabody left dry
by 4-day boil order
Some Peabody residents ate simple meals off paper plates to avoid needing water during a boil order issued at 2:30 p.m. Friday that lasted until 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Others, like Courtney Schmill, kept boiled water in pots by their sinks and added bleach when washing dishes.
“You don’t realize how much you dabble in the water until you have to consciously remind yourself not to,” she said. “I feel like some kind of pioneer woman, dipping my dishware over an open flame.”
Shmill sat in a bathroom during her 9-year-old son’s showers to remind him not to open his mouth. She also got bottled water for the two of them to use when brushing their teeth and washing their faces.
“I am thankful that it’s been OK to bathe and wash clothes,” she said, “but, God, I’m ready to use the faucet again.”
City councilman and water committee member Jay Gfeller said that a valve closed at Peabody’s water tower for an inspection Thursday couldn’t be reopened because of a breaker issue.
It caused an imbalance in water pressure that could have upset the chlorine residual levels and caused bacterial growth, hence the boil order from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The inspection was unrelated to the city’s upcoming water line replacement.
“It hasn’t been upgraded in 20 years,” he said.
Gfeller hit the streets along with other city workers within an hour of the boil order being issued to pass out fliers with safety information.
The city contacted stores to make sure they had plenty of bottled water. Peabody Market kept water in stock throughout the self-imposed drought, although it was unable to operate its drinking fountain, soda fountain, or coffee machine — all of which are large draws to the store.
There was not as much of an uproar as there would have been for a boil order in a warmer season. Peabody Market and Family Dollar still had shelves full of bottled water on Monday.
On Monday, a daily chlorine test found that chlorine had reached safe levels, but a water sample had to be sent to Pace Analytical in Salina to get the information that KDHE needed to lift the boil order.
Samples are incubated for 24 hours and then inspected for bacterial growth.
Peabody officials said Pace Analytical had been closed over the weekend and could not accept a sample before Monday, so Tuesday was the earliest the order could be rescinded.