Mt. Vernon residents asked to conserve water - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Mt. Vernon residents asked to conserve water

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UPDATED 8:30 A.M. FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2019

MT VERNON (WSIL) -- Residents across Jefferson County will continue to be under a boil water order according to a post on the city of Mt. Vernon's Facebook page.

Officials say the area from 27th Street to 42nd Street south of Broadway will not have water services for the time being and are asking residents to conserve as much water as possible. They add that people should not use any unnecessary water including watering your lawns or flowers, filling pools, or washing cars.

The Aquatic Zoo in Mt. Vernon announced on its Facebook page that the water park will not open this weekend as planned due to the ongoing water crisis.

City workers were notified of four leaks found throughout the city that were caused by fluctuations in water pressure while crews searched for a major leak. The post didn't specify when or where these smaller leaks were found but leaders say those leaks will be fixed as soon as the major leak is isolated.

The Rend Lake Water Conservancy District is currently pushing as much water to the system as it can and officials have not ordered any businesses to close.

UPDATED 12:20 A.M. FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2019

MT. VERNON (WSIL) -- Mt. Vernon city leaders are working around the clock to fix a water leak that is threatening service to most of Jefferson County. 

The city has been leaking 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water per minute since Tuesday. 

As of 11 p.m. Thursday night, city crews isolated an area between 27th and 44th Streets south of Broadway where they believe the leak is. 

Mt. Vernon Fire Chief Kevin Sargent says crews have narrowed the search within one square mile by turning valves off on 34th Street with hopes of determining if the leak is to the west or east. 

City leaders met late Thursday afternoon in hopes of finding a solution to stop the city from losing water. 

As of Thursday night, Mayor John Lewis says the city has loss nearly 6 million gallons of water. 

"So we have been systematically isolating large areas of Mt. Vernon and that hasn't work," City Administrator Mary Ellen Bechtel said. 

During the special meeting, officials took action by declaring a state of emergency and deciding to have crews turn off the water.

Starting at 5:15 p.m., the city used their outdoor warning system to alert residents of the shutoff. 

This caused a chain reaction throughout the city of businesses and restaurants closing to conserve water. 

"We are shutting down everything because of the water shortage," Circle K Sales Associate Nina said. "We are going to shut down anything that requires water."

That includes their best seller. 

"Our biggest seller, the Polar Pop is going to be shut down," Nina said. 

Also during the meeting, city leaders announced there would only be 16 hours until the city ran out of water once they shut down the water. 

Residents have also been asked to conserve water. 

"The public can help us lengthen that window and get through this," Mayor John Lewis said. 

Since that meeting, Rend Lake Conservancy District has continued to pump 4,000 gallons of water per minute to Mt. Vernon to maintain their system, lowering the threat of running out of water. 

The isolation area of the leak continues to get smaller, keeping down the threat of running out of water. 

Lewis said since Thursday afternoon, the city has found three breaks in their system in smaller lines. Those breaks will be fixed after locating and fixing the major leak. 

Currently the entire city of Mt. Vernon and the water districts they serve, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Dix/Kell, Northeast, Bell-Rive and Bluford, remain under a water boil order until further notice. 

A boil water order means that you must boil any water you are planning to use for consumption for 5 minutes before using, which includes cooking or drinking.

The crisis in Mt. Vernon comes one year after a break in a pipe in the Rend Lake Conservancy District that left more than 100,000 people without water for days. 

That breach in a 36-inch pipe forced crews to shut down water service to several southern Illinois communities. 

Click here to visit the city's website for the latest updates. 

UPDATED 2:56 P.M. THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2019

MT. VERNON (WSIL) -- Mt. Vernon city leaders will meet at 4:00 p.m. Thursday to declare a water emergency.

Right now, leaders are asking residents to conserve water.

A major water leak has not been found. On Wednesday, the city reporting using more than 3,500 gallons of water per minute, indicating a water loss at that time of over 2.5 million gallons.

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