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Boil advisory lifted for southwestern Columbia neighborhoods

UPDATE 6/24: A precautionary boil advisory was lifted Friday for hundreds of residents in southwest Columbia.

The city said normal water pressure had returned to the Thornbrook and Steeplechase neighborhoods.

Columbia Water and Light said it believed residents changing their irrigation schedules helped improve the pressure.

A majority of residents in the area had their irrigation systems set to the default settings of Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which were the days the pressure was low.

Columbia Water and Light will continue to ask residents to due the voluntary irrigation schedule to make sure water pressure doesn’t continue to drop.

UPDATE 6/23: City of Columbia’s Water and Light & Columbia Fire Department went to neighborhoods today in Southwest Columbia to remind residents of the voluntary irrigation schedule.

The city & fire department went door knocking to advise residents to make sure to change their irrigation times to the voluntary schedule.

UPDATE 6/22:City leaders are continuing to urge residents in southwestern Columbia to follow the voluntary irrigation schedule because water pressure is continuing to drop.

City leaders say if in the next couple of weeks the water pressure continues to drop they might have to look at other solutions, which could mean a ban in irrigation.

Ryan Williams, Assistant Director of Columbia Water & Light says this boil advisory is important because not only does it affect residents water but also affects how firefighters fight fires.

The city says with the continued growth in the southwest region of Columbia, their infrastructure can handle all new construction and future construction.

The city will be out in southwest neighborhoods Thursday June 23rd to answer any questions and to remind residents of the advisory,

UPDATE 6/17:City officials said the water pressure in the Thornbrook and Steeplechase Subdivisions dropped again early Friday morning.

The city has extended the precautionary boil advisory for the area until Monday June 20th.

Data shows the water pressure is dropping starting around 4 a.m. The city said it appears the irrigation system demand is causing the problem.

Columbia Water & Light is still urging residents to use avoluntary irrigation schedulein the Bradbury Estates, Creek’s Edge, Thornbrook, Steeplechase, and Wyndham Ridge subdivisions so all of the sprinkler systems do not operate at the same time.

Ryan Williams, assistant utilities director for Columbia Water & Light, said this is the fastest short-term solution to lift the boil advisory.

UPDATE 6/16: Columbia City leaders say residents on the southwest parts of town are following the voluntary irrigation schedule.

After doing some testing in the morning, Steven Sapp told ABC 17 news that the water pressure is slowly starting to rise, and not fall below.

Sapp also says that due to the hotter weather water usage has gone up by nearly 4 million gallons compared to several weeks ago.

As of now, no rate structure or penalties will be in place or discussed for residents who don’t follow future orders or use too much water.

The city will soon start to look at ways to reduce water usage if weather conditions continue.

The precautionary boil advisory for residents still remains in effect till Friday, June 17th, at 12 p.m.

UPDATE 6/15: Columbia Water & Light says outside water demands are likely causing a pressure problem in some southwestern Columbia subdivisions this week.

Officials say water flow data loggers show that starting around 4 a.m., the water pressure is dropping substantially with the hot, dry weather.

Columbia Water & Light is suggesting a voluntary irrigation schedule for residents in the Bradbury Estates, Creek’s Edge, Thornbrook, Steeplechase, and Wyndham Ridge subdivisions so all of the sprinkler systems do not operate at the same time.

Columbia Water & Light says until it can be assured that the pressure will not drop below 20 psi, the precautionary boil advisory for residents of the Thornbrook subdivision in southwestern Columbia will remain in place. However it says of the water samples that have been tested, no contaminants have been found.

The utility is suggesting that customers who are served by the same water distribution pipes all follow the utility’s suggested schedule.

The schedule is for the following subdivisions: Bradbury Estates, Creek’s Edge, Thornbrook, Steeplechase and Wyndham Ridge subdivisions. The customers in the area have been divided into five groups that will be asked to set their sprinkler timers between midnight and 4 a.m.

If this rotating of the schedule levels off the demand so there is not a substantial drop in pressure, then the boil advisory will be lifted. If there is not a change in demand in the early morning hours with this voluntary request, then an alternating day schedule with specific times could be suggested.

Water utility modeling shows that there is adequate piping in place to meet customers’ water needs, if the demand for water does not spike at certain times of the day. The subdivisions in this area of town are different than other areas of the city since they are on the boundaries of the water territory and the elevation is higher. Columbia Water & Light says it is researching along-term solution to the low water pressure issue.

UPDATE 6/14:The precautionary water boil advisory will continue to be in effect for the Thornbrook subdivision until Wednesday.

Water utility crews are working to find out what caused the water pressure to drop sharply Monday morning.

“Because we haven’t found the solution to the problem, even though this morning, the pressure didn’t drop as much, we’re not going to take any risks,” said Connie Kacprowicz with Water and Light. “We’re going to have the precautionary boil advisory until at least tomorrow and make sure we’re in a safe zone.”

It still suspects sprinkler systems is the reason behind the drop and many Thornbrook residents said they plan on staggering their schedules to make sure to avoid a drop in water pressure, which could cause a serious boil order to go into effect.

“Anything that someone can do voluntarily to help us as far as that low pressure first thing in the morning is helpful,” said Kacprowicz.

Demand for water has increased by millions of gallons in the past week across Columbia, probably due to the dry weather. Kacprowicz said the city does have plenty of clean water to supply residents with.

“The water treatment plant is in McBaine and there’s a 44 billion gallon aquifer there,” she said. “Our water supply is not only clean but it’s plentiful. But we don’t want to waste it.”

People should water their lawns and plants in the early morning or evening when the sun isn’t out to dry it out.

Shaun Henry oversees grounds maintenance with Atkins. He said a rule of thumb for lawns is to water deep and less often. He also suggested running shorter cycles twice a day instead of once for a longer time.

Finally, he said it is more efficient to have a professionally installed system because it will use water better than someone who is attaching a sprinkler head to a garden hose.

6/13:Columbia Water and Light has issued a precautionary water boil advisory for the Thornbrook subdivision in Columbia.

Officials say watering in Columbia has greatly increased due to the hot, dry weather. With this increased usage, Water and Light officials say residents of the Thornbrook subdivision contacted them about a drop in water pressure during the early morning hours Monday.

Columbia water utility staff members say they have been investigating the low pressure issue so the problem could be resolved. As part of this research, water flow data loggers were put on the water distribution system in the Thornbrook neighborhood.

Officials say between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. Monday, the water pressure dropped below 20 psi. This was reported to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and they instructed Columbia Water & Light to call a precautionary boil advisory.

DNR apparently requires utilities to call boil advisories when the pressure drops below 20 psi because it could cause a backflow situation where something could be siphoned into the water distribution system.

Columbia Water & Light says around 600 Thornbrook subdivision customers in southwest Columbia will be notified by a phone call about the precautionary boil advisory. Customers are urged to take the following steps until notified by Columbia Water & Light:

Boil water for three minutes prior to using it for cooking or drinking.

Do not consume ice from an automatic ice maker. Remake ice with water that has been boiled for three minutes.

Wash dishes and food contact surfaces by immersing for one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of water.

Columbia’s water division staff says it is continuing to do more research in the area to ensure there are no problems with the water distribution system that would be causing the drop in water pressure.

Since the pressure is spiking at one point in the early morning hours, they say it could be that all the sprinkler systems in the area are programmed to start at the same time. Water & Light officials say a detailed investigation of water use patterns is being studied. If it is a water demand issue due to sprinklers, they say crews will then develop a plan for alternating water schedules.

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