Communities take precaution with water mains - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Communities take precaution with water mains

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WSIL -- In Southern Illinois, water main breaks and boil water orders are a common occurrence. Aging infrastructure and the shifting of soil are two reasons we see so many breaks in the region. 

Parts of the region learned the hard way during the Rend Lake water crisis back in May, that water may not always flow as expected. That scare prompted many communities to come up with back up plans. Even some that weren't affected by the crisis, say they do their best to keep up with replacing old pipes before they break. 

Water mains are often decades old before they're replaced.  It's an expensive project, but a necessary one to keep our water running and running clean. 

"As time goes by, infrastructure replacement is going to be more and more of an issue, especially in water," said Curt Mezo, Murdale Water District Manager.

Mezo says in the past 30 years, his district has been aggressively replacing water mains. Even so, its hard to stay ahead. Over the weekend, a water line installed in 1972 cracked and 700 homes were without water for about an hour. 

"With Kinkaid being our only supplier, we have interconnections with Carbondale on an emergency basis and we actually used one of them the other day to help augment us during our outage," said Mezo. 

In light of the recent water crisis, the city of Marion decided to install a dry hydrant within city limits. A dry hydrant will give fire crews access to large amounts of water even in the case of a shortage. While water from this dry hydrant won't be for drinking, Fire Chief Jerry Odum says having a dry hydrant will cut down on response time when they have to shuttle water to fight a fire. 

"We are actually looking at a couple other locations and hopefully we will be able to secure those and put one of the south or east side of town," said Chief Odum. 

Odum recommends communities look into installing dry hydrants and Mezo suggests going after funding to replace mains like the State Water Revolving Loan Fund. 

"I would recommend to other water systems that are looking at aging infrastructure to take a hard look at that program and try to participate," said Mezo. 

Mezo says its very important to follow boil water orders because in the case of a water main break, contaminants from ditches may get into the mains and cause illness.

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