Water Break Updates of the Rend Lake Conservancy District

May 16, 2018

9:30 pm Update: The pipe split has been located and removed. The pipe is being prepped for welding. After welding is completed the District will test the weld. More information will be available at midnight.

May 17, 2018

Midnight Update: The weld is difficult due to water backing up into the pipe from the system. The crew continues to weld while the staff is bleeding water downstream. Expect more information at 4:00 am. Plan accordingly.

6:00 am Update: We are still working on the repair of the 36” water pipe in the Intercity Water Plant. Whenever the plant is restarted it will still take most of a day to refill the system. Therefore, we need conservation from everyone. Each town will make its own announcements about boil water orders after the plant is up and running. Each town has its own water reserves that will effect whether or when a boil water order is issued. The 1200 individual customers of Intercity Water will be on a boil water order when their water begins to flow. Please conserve as much water as possible.

8:30 am Update:  The repairs of the Intercity Water Plant pipe break continue. The repair has been difficult. The staff and contractors of Intercity Water are using alternate repair methods. There is no estimate of when pumping of water will resume. Even when pumping resumes, it will take most of one day to refill the system. Therefore, the Intercity Water System asks that everyone conserve as much as possible.

10:30 am Update: The process of creating a by-pass for one of the three high service pumps has begun. When complete this will provide some water to the system. It will not be at full capacity. The Intercity Water System is focusing on returning some water to the system to assist with the health and welfare of the 60 communities served by the Intercity Water System. The System asks that all communities and at-risk businesses such as hospitals and nursing homes, institute their loss of water back up plans.

1:00 pm Update: I personally saw the two projects being diligently undertaken. One project is to by-pass the affected area. The other project is to completely replace the affected pipe. The first plan will provide some but not full capacity. The other plan would allow for near full capacity when completed. There is still no estimate as to when either plan will be completed. Please continue to follow your loss of water back up plans. Larry Sanders, General Counsel/Media Contact, Rend Lake Conservancy District

4:00 pm Update: Prior to the conference call with local officials, I toured the two projects; 1. The by-pass which will provide limited capacity and 2. A new 36” piece of pipe to replace the breached pipe. Neither project is within three hours of completion. The IEPA asked that the Rend Lake Conservancy District request all of our customers to immediately declare a boil water order. This request is immediate and not just when water pumping resumes. Please continue to implement your loss of water plans. There is no definitive time that we can provide to you as to when Intercity Water will begin pumping water. Larry Sanders, General Counsel/Media Contact, Rend Lake Conservancy District

9:00 pm Update: The by-pass alternative is progressing well. It is estimated to be 75% complete as to materials in place but not necessarily time required. When this alternative is complete, approximately one-third capacity can be achieved due to the use of one dedicated high service pump and a 24” above ground HDPE waterline. The second simultaneous project is the removal of the piece of steel pipe that breached yesterday at 5pm. The piece is approximately five feet long. Attached to it were multiple braces and fittings. All fittings and braces had to be removed before the pipe could be cut out. That has happened. Now a new five-foot piece of 36” steel pipe will be reattached. When that project is completed, capacity will slowly be brought to full capacity. Due to a myriad of issues including the level of tanks in the system, controls on some but not all of the tanks, the need to slowly push air out of the pipes, the system will be brought on gradually. This will prevent, as best as possible, any damage to existing pipes. Please continue to implement your loss of water plans. There is no definitive time that we can provide to you as to when Intercity Water will begin pumping water. Larry Sanders, General Counsel/Media Contact, Rend Lake Conservancy District.

May 18, 2018

4:00 am Update:  35 hours after water stopped flowing water is once again flowing from the Intercity Water Plant.  The close of one very long day is within sight. The by-pass is completed. The contractors installed the last fittings at 2:00 am.  The plant energized one pump at 3:00 am beginning the flow of treated water through the HDPE above ground by-pass into the system.  Shortly thereafter water began to be drawn from Rend Lake to begin the treatment process. Over the next several hours the volume of water will be gradually increased.  During that time, we anticipate that the replacement of the broken piece of steel pipe will also be completed.  This will allow more water to be pumped into the system.  Refilling all tanks and all lines will require one or more days. The Rend Lake Conservancy District and the Intercity Water Plant wishes to thank everyone for their patience and support.  To the employees of the District and to the contractors we say, “Job well done.”  The District previously asked that all towns and water districts institute a boil water order per the request of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.  Most have done so.  The 1,200 individual customers of the Intercity Water System are also on a boil water order.  Customers will be notified as soon as the lab returns the test results.  Please continue to implement conservation practices until the system is returned to full capacity.  Full capacity is expected to be reached at about the same time that the test results are received from the lab.  The boil water order will be lifted when the lab says it is safe to do so.

8:30 am Update: The 36” main line repair has been successfully repaired. The Intercity Water Plant is pumping water into the system with two high service pumps. The lake intake and the treatment plant have been returned to service. The system will be on a boil water order until Intercity Water receives test results showing that the water is safe to drink. Towns and water districts may only collect their samples after Intercity receives a report showing that the water is safe to use. Intercity Water will draw samples on Saturday. Intercity Water will receive results on Sunday after 2:00 pm. Because of the complete shut down and the emptying of pipes and tanks, the sediment will be disturbed. Please alert all of your customers that there will be an increased possibility of the incidence of air and floating copper and lead in the lines of your customers. Ask your customers to remove aerators from faucets or to use supplies without aerators, like tubs, to flush the lines of the customers. This simply means to let the water run for a couple of minutes before collecting water to be boiled and then cooled for consumption. Towns and water districts may not see the levels of their tanks rise until noon. District ground storage tanks are currently being filled. Booster pumps will be used to fill the tanks of the towns and water districts. Please be assured that the water is rapidly getting to all corners of the system but since most elevated towers and other water storage requires the use of District booster pumps, you may not see a significant rise in your water levels until noon. 

4:45 pm Update: This is intended to be the final update. It is now exactly 48 hours after the rupture of the major water line exiting the Intercity Water Plant at Rend Lake. Here is where we stand at this time. Rend Lake water is being treated, it is being pumped through the replacement five-foot piece of 36” steel pipe, into the District’s system, to your water systems, and ultimately to the 160,000 users.

The boil water order is in full effect and will continue until both the Intercity Water and your personal water system receive test results indicating the water is safe to drink. This process will take three or more days. Please share with your customers the importance of flushing their personal water pipes to diminish the effect of any copper, lead, or air. The easiest manner to flush the pipes is to run the bathtub for two minutes. This seems contrary to the District’s request that you continue to conserve water but the IEPA feels that it is important to do so.

By now all tanks should have shown an increase in their levels. The District has purposefully started the flow of water in a gentle manner. Gradually the flow is being increased. Demand has been high so the increases for some systems may be slower than others. With diminished demands tonight, the District is confident that all tanks will have significant increases by morning.

Take home points:

  • Treated water is steadily flowing
  • Water tanks are showing gradual increases in level
  • Conservation is still sought
  • Flush personal lines in the most conservative manner as possible
  • Boil all water to be consumed by humans until you are informed by your water supplier that the order has been lifted
  • Water levels in the tanks is expected to increase significantly over night

Thank you for your courtesies and for your attention to the information provided. We greatly appreciate your kind words, your help, and offers of help. To all the staff of the Rend Lake Conservancy District, to the contractors that worked until the job was completed, and to the suppliers that opened doors to us at odd times we say thank you for your dedication and your self-sacrifices.  Larry Sanders, Rend Lake Conservancy District

May 19, 2018

Update:  Contrary to the belief that the prior update was final, I will continue to share updates as long as there is information that needs sharing.

First, The District ground storage tanks located throughout the District were filled. The rural elevated towers on which the District has telemetry showed at or near capacity. Few of the towers and ground storage tanks maintained by the cities are on the District’s telemetry. While the District does not have information on the levels of those towers, the District knows that its tanks are experiencing high demand from the cities. The logical progression is that the cities are still actively seeking to fill their elevated and ground storage tanks.

Second, the Intercity Water Plant is functioning and producing treated water. On Wednesday when the pipe breached the plant had a large amount of water run through it before the pumps were completely shut down. The District employees quickly identified some damage. It was suspected that more damage would be found when the plant came back on line. The additional damage has now been identified and crews are being assembled to make those repairs. These repairs may require slowing the flow of water or for short periods of time, stopping the flow. This will occur at times when demand is reduced.

Third, and of utmost importance, PLEASE CONTINUE TO CONSERVE. Anecdotally, reports have been received of pools being filled this weekend before Memorial Day. Please don’t do this…yet.

Fourth, burn bans and the definition of burn bans are not under the province of the District. Miraculously, no known fires have occurred in the District since Wednesday. I pray that you will please do your best to continue to prevent the need to use large volumes of water to fight fires, irrespective of whether burn bans are lifted. The request for conservation and burn bans are not synonymous. Even if burn bans are lifted, please continue to conserve.

Fifth, the boil water order is still in effect throughout the District. The District has been assured that the samples drawn today will be analyzed at the earliest possible time. Thank you, Kim. The analyzation is not only about priority and manpower. It is also a simple function of the time required before the samples will show whether the water is safe to drink. It is believed that the results will be known late Sunday morning. If the results show the water in the District’s lines is safe to drink, towns and water districts will want to be prepared to draw samples of their systems in the early afternoon rather than the previously believed late afternoon.

Larry Sanders, General Counsel, Rend Lake Conservancy District   

May 20, 2018

7:00 am Update:  It is now time for the second step of water sampling to begin. All RLCD samples came back “Satisfactory-Safe to Drink.” The towns and water districts may now draw their samples and submit for testing. Boil water orders will remain in effect for all towns and water districts until the towns and water districts inform you otherwise. The Rend Lake Conservancy District continues to seek conservation. The system is nearing full capacity. The District anticipates full capacity by Monday morning.

12:00 pm Update:  Due to the concerted efforts of every community to conserve water, the Rend Lake Conservancy District is ending the request for water conservation. We cannot thank all of you enough for your efforts to conserve. You may now spend the afternoon doing laundry, washing dishes, and taking showers!

At the risk of forgetting somebody, the Rend Lake Conservancy District says a big thank you to our contractors: FW Electric and Plumbing, Midwest Excavating, C&C Pumps, Rend Lake Plumbing and Heating, River City Construction, Sierra Bravo, and those of you that know who you are and I have forgotten to mention.  Larry Sanders, General Counsel, Rend Lake Conservancy District

May 21, 2018

4:30 pm Update:  Many towns are now coming off their “Boil Water Orders.” The District withdrew its request for conservation. The plant has been able to keep pace with demand and keep all tanks and towers filled throughout the day.

Work has continued on the temporary by-pass. Many people have driven past the work at the site of the by-pass and wondered if that is where the break occurred. It is not. Because of the work being completed at that location, some have incorrectly presumed that there is still a main break. The purpose of the work is to complete what was always part of the plan. An 18” tapping sleeve was in route from Texas when the 12” by-pass pipe was installed. The 12” by-pass pipe is what first allowed water to begin flowing into the system at 4:00 am Thursday morning. Now, at 4:00 pm Monday evening, both the 12” and 18” by-pass pipes are installed and available for use.

On Thursday morning, shortly after water began flowing through the 12” by-pass, the 36” repaired pipe was also put into service. This pipe has been continuously pumping more than 10,000 gallons of treated water every minute. This high flow rate is how the District has been able to bring the system up to full capacity. As is common in all water systems there are small leaks. Luckily, no breaks have occurred in the system and all leaks are minor. At this time, there is no leak that warrants doing anything more than monitoring. Calculations indicate that the leaks are less than 1/3 of a gallon per minute in a pipe that is pumping well over 10,000 gallons per minute. It is the practice of the District to repair even small leaks when conditions present themselves.  Larry Sanders, Rend Lake Conservancy District, General Counsel


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