State issues all-clear for TRE water
July 13, 2012
After spending the better part of four days being told not to trust their water, some of that distrust boiled over in Topaz Ranch Estates this week.
The Topaz Ranch Estates General Improvement District water system was declared safe by the state at about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.
The system had been under a do-not drink order since Monday morning, and had been under a boil-water order before that after an 8-inch line break disrupted the water supply on Sunday afternoon.
Nevada Rural Water Association Executive Director Bob Foerster described the events of the past four days to about 40 residents attending Wednesday night’s district board meeting.
Foerster was filling in as interim manager of the district while the district’s manager’s employment status is being determined.
He said the section of pipe that broke was part of the original system installed in the 1960s.
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“When the pipe broke we worked through the night to dig up and repair it,” he said. “Since the system was open to the elements a boil water order was issued after we notified the state.”
The line brake started a cascade of failures, including the failure of Well No. 1.
“As more and more people were running out of water, we made the decision to turn on Well 6,” he said. “Then the state notified me that the well hadn’t ever been fully analyzed. Then we had to go do a do-not drink order.”
Foerster said that while it was likely that the water was good, the well had never been certified for human consumption by the state.
That meant 260,000 gallons had to be flushed from the system before the state would certify it as drinkable again.
“We could have done some things better, but we can learn some things from it,” he said.
Eight-year resident Delores Zetak said the meeting was as well attended as any she’s attended.
“Usually they only get three or four people,” she said.
Zetak said she was notified by the Reverse 911 system, but other residents attending the meeting said they didn’t have any notice of the drinking water ban.
General Improvement District Chairman Larry Offenstein said Reverse 911 called 386 Topaz Ranch Estates homes during the emergency, confirming that many of the 740 homes didn’t receive a call from the system.
Resident Richard Crick said Tuesday that he hadn’t heard from anyone about the water.
“They didn’t tell us for two days, and then they changed it from boiling water to not drinking it at all,” he said.
Crick said his wife called Frontier on Monday to find out why they didn’t hear from Reverse 911.
The Arden Way resident said they were informed by the phone company that they shouldn’t have to sign up for the program.
“We haven’t gotten a call and neither have a half-dozen of our neighbors,” he said. “Normally, I’m a pretty calm guy, but this is absolutely ridiculous. And if it wasn’t so ridiculous, I wouldn’t be so mad.”
Douglas County 911 Emergency Services Manager Ron Sagen said that information received from Frontier didn’t plot the addresses to the correct streets for several telephone numbers. That meant the computer didn’t know those addresses were located in Topaz Ranch Estates.
Sagen said he’s corrected those numbers for a handful of people who’ve notified him they didn’t receive a call.
He’s been working on fixing the missing addresses, but said they may have been that way for years.
Only Frontier customers with landlines are automatically on the system, which means anyone who receives their phone service from Charter, or another voice over Internet system must log into the county system and provide their phone number and address.
He said he’s working to get the issues from the water notification fixed, but that there may be people who are missed.
Created Sept. 7, 1971, by Douglas County commissioners to deal with roads in the south county, the TRE district took over the water system from a private company in 1997.