UPDATE: Boil advisory canceled after Dayton water main break

Credit: Marshall Gorby

A 48-inch water main broke Monday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Dayton, spilling thousands of gallons of water into the streets at Keowee and Monument.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The boil advisory has been canceled for all City of Dayton water customers after water samples taken at 4:45 p.m. contained no bacteria according to Dayton officials.

A release from the city advises that customers run their tap water until there is a noticeable drop in temperature. Before using water for drinking or cooking, customers should run the water for 30 seconds to three minutes to flush any water that may have contained lead that leached from the plumbing. Customers were also advised to clean their faucet aerator.

Two pipes broke — a 48-inch pipe installed in the 1950s and a 36-inch pipe, City Manager Shelley Dickstein said during a Tuesday evening Zoom call. When one of the pipes broke, it likely caused the second to break, she said.

The break that occurred Monday afternoon at Keowee and Ottawa streets, near the Mad River, affected 27,000 customers Dickstein said.

The 17,000 customers in the low pressure area had water presser restored by 9:45 p.m. Tuesday. However, about 10,000 customers in the high pressure area in the Belmont and Patterson Park neighborhoods were still experiencing problems and had not returned to full service by late Tuesday afternoon.

ExploreDayton boil advisory: Is your home or workplace on the city’s map?

City staff were working to complete a valve change, and the reservoirs were expected to be filled by later Tuesday evening, which would restore water pressure to all customers, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience through this infrastructure break,” she said.

Dickstein said city crews had to engineer a 24-inch line to fill the reservoirs. Anyone who continues to have problems Tuesday night can call 937-333-4905.

The cause of the break is still unknown, and it has not yet been determined how much water was lost during the break.

Crews have not excavated around it because the focus was on restoring water service, Dickstein said.

Miami Valley Hospital and Grandview Medical Center water was affected most of the day Tuesday. Officials at both hospitals said the water shortage did not affect operations, and they distributed bottled water to patients and staff.

Montgomery County government buildings in downtown Dayton will be open Wednesday.

Water pressure has been restored at the County Administration Building, Reibold Building, the Court Complex, Juvenile Court and Coroner’s Office. However, all the county government buildings downtown will be under a boil advisory when they reopen, according to a release from Brianna Wooten, county communications director.

Water pressure returned to the Montgomery County Jail by Tuesday. On Monday, the jail worked with the county and emergency management agency officials to ensure the jail continued to function and the inmates had water, said Christine Ton, media director with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Inmates were provided water bottles, she said.

Patterson Park resident Peter Hein, who lives on Buckingham Road, said his home lost a significant amount of water pressure about 4 p.m. Monday, and it had not improved by 1 p.m. Tuesday. He and his family used buckets of water from his swimming pool to flush their toilets because the water tanks were taking about an hour to refill.

Hein and others in the neighborhood said it’s unfortunate that this is the third major water disruption in about a year-and-a-half, but they understand that the pipes are old.

“It’s an inconvenience, but I’m not up in arms about it,” he said. “I have a pool in the back, so I have hundreds of gallons of water that I can flush my toilet with.”

Monday’s incident was the third large water main break in Dayton since February 2019. A recent Dayton Daily News investigation found that the city of Dayton loses between 16% and 30% of its treated drinking water — between 3.68 billion and 6.9 billion gallons a year, according to what the city described as a very rough estimate.

The city’s water department spends 47% of its annual $52 million budget goes toward water supply and treatment, officials recently told the Dayton Daily News.

Several years ago the city started investing in its aging water and sewer infrastructure, as many of the city’s more than 2,000 miles of pipes have been in place since the 1800s. Commissioners agreed to spend $15 million per year to replace or repair 1% of the system’s infrastructure annually, with more than half the money going toward the city’s more than 800 miles of water pipes.

There’s been a reduction in overall water main breaks in recent years as a result of the city’s “aggressive” approach to address the aging infrastructure, said Aaron Zonin, the city’s deputy water director. The city had 124 water main breaks last year ― excluding the February 2019 incident.

“All of us are relieved that we started replacing 1% of our pipes every year,” City Commissioner Matt Joseph said Tuesday. “Our engineers saw this coming, they saw that the age (of the pipes) was up there and that we had pipes that were going to be coming up for replacement one way or the other. "

The city’s can invest in the infrastructure because the water utility had taken on hardly any debt for many years, he said. So it was for the city to take on some debt to afford the repairs, he said. Commissioners in January also raised rates to pay for the improvement.

Dayton will continue making improvements to ensure disruptions the sizes of Monday’s water main break are minimal, he said.

“We all sympathize with our residents,” Joseph said. “In fact, I live in the (Patterson Park) area, we don’t have very good pressure still. We realize that it’s annoying.”

The city’s water is distributed to some 400,000 people, including about 250,000 people in Montgomery County.

While service has been restored to most residents, customers in the low system area, which includes downtown, are still under a precautionary boil advisory.

ExploreDayton sees third large water disruption in last year and half; boil advisory underway

The city released a boil advisory map to help residents and businesses determine if they were under the boil advisory. The map is being updated as service is restored to different areas.

Montgomery County will provide free bottled water distribution today at two locations for Belmont-area residents who are still without water. It will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. at Belmont High School, 2615 Wayne Ave., and the Lohrey Recreation Center, 2366 Glenarm Ave.

>> Boil Water Advisory: 7 tips on what (and what not) to do from the CDC

When test results are finalized, the city will work with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to start lifting the boil advisory.

Keowee Street, between Valley Street and Monument Avenue, remain closed as city crews work on scene where the break occurred.

Watermain break repairs along Keowee Street on Aug. 4, 2020.
Watermain break repairs along Keowee Street on Aug. 4, 2020.

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