A boil advisory remains in effect today for all City of Dayton, Montgomery County and Trotwood water customers after five tornadoes touched down Memorial Day.

Water service returns, ruling on if it’s safe to drink expected today

Dayton and the majority of Montgomery County residents have been under a boil advisory since the city’s two water treatment plants lost power Monday night. The lack of power depressurized the system as gravity pulled the water away from high elevation areas in the city and county.

Loss of pressure in water systems can allow bacteria or other harmful compounds into pipes. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was still reviewing water quality test data late Wednesday but was expected to meet with city leaders today, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said.

Dayton Power & Light restored electric service to the city’s Miami Treatment Plant, 3210 Chuck Wagner Lane, on Tuesday and full power to the Ottawa Treatment Plant, 1044 Ottawa St., on Wednesday morning.

Restoring the Miami Treatment Plant allowed the city to repressurize one of the two pressure areas in the water system. The low area, restored Tuesday, never fully lost pressure and rebounded more quickly, Dickstein said.

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“Our low pressure zone really houses the majority of our hospitals, so it is a critical area that has a lot of impact obviously if there’s no water there,” she said. “When we have breaks … the elevated areas take the greatest hit.”

Stabilizing the low pressure area allowed the city to push water service to the south of the county, Dickstein said. Once that area became pressurized, then pressure could begin to return to the higher elevated zone.

City officials declined to provide a map or more specific geographic descriptions of where the two pressure areas are located.

On Wednesday, the city produced about 40 million gallons of water. Normally, the city produces about 65 million gallons of water per day.

About 5 million of those gallons go to heavy water users, Dickstein said, including Cargill. The city restricted the water supply to the company’s corn milling facility at 3201 Needmore Road.

Cargill told the Dayton Daily News the company has temporarily ceased production at its plant but continues to fulfill orders with current inventory at the Dayton facility and others.

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“We are also addressing truck and rail transportation challenges due to the tornado-related destruction and continued flooding across the central U.S.,” said Doug Myers, Cargill Dayton facility manager. “We are grateful that our employees and facility are safe, and we are exploring ways that we can help our neighbors who were severely impacted by the tornado’s destruction.”

Other companies are chipping in using their existing water supply. MillerCoors is shipping 50,000, 12-oz cans of water from a brewery in Virginia, expected to arrive sometime this afternoon for distribution at Bonbright Distributors, 1 Arena Park Drive.

Dickstein reiterated her defense of the city’s water system, again noting Wednesday that the redundant power systems at the water plants were devastated by the tornadoes.

Pump stations also lost power and temporary generators were set up at those locations. She said it would not be cost effective to have permanent backup generators at pump stations.

“This was a historic, catastrophic event, when you have five tornadoes that are confirmed go through an area, and DP&L lost several substations and several transmission towers that are crumpled to the ground,” she said. “It is simply cost prohibitive to have the required power in a backup generator, (that) essentially would be tens of millions of dollars diverted from replacing critical infrastructure,” and updating the water plants.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley toured the Miami plant with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Wednesday. She acknowledged the frustration many people had with the lack of water, while also recognizing people who lost their homes face far greater challenges than a lack of water.

“Our community has done a great job stepping up,” Whaley said. “We encourage them to be patient with both the electricity and the water as we work diligently on it, but please remember there are people in the community … whose lives will never be the same.”

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