Village of South Jacksonville Addressing Communication on Boil Orders

By Benjamin Cox on November 9, 2020 at 10:02am

The Village of South Jacksonville addressed the village’s current announcements of boil orders and communication to its water customers last Thursday night during its monthly board meeting. Village President Harry Jennings says that the village is currently pursuing some options to better communicate with rural water customers versus those who live in the village limits: “One thing we have been discussing is a text alert system. Of course, that’s some added cost, but that’s definitely something we are going to be discussing in the future. Another thing we want to focus on is when we send those [boil order] notices out to the media, we want to make sure we differentiate between when we have a boil order in town (which is very rare) as opposed to when it is something on our rural system that way we can eliminate that confusion.”

Police Chief Eric Hansell says a text message alert system under the village’s control would cost in the neighborhood of $14,000 annually. He says the village could become a part of the county’s alert system, but the Morgan County Emergency Management System would control what messages are sent out versus what the village would like to be sent out. Also, the messages would go out countywide versus to just village residents.

Jennings says he heard numerous complaints in his office and saw a number online about the discoloration of water in town. Jennings says the water was still safe to consume: “When you say boil order, a lot of the complaints – there’s a misconception when people see the rusty water that they think they were on a boil order. The boil orders come from when there is a loss of pressure in the lines. If there is a break in the rural line, usually there is about a 2 day delay when you may see some rusty water in town. The rusty water doesn’t cause a boil order. It’s still safe to drink because it’s just iron, it’s just rust in the water. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily okay. It’s safe to drink but it’s not something we want. We are trying to address that quality control, but it is harder on your faucets and appliances. With that said, it’s not something that requires a boil order.”

Jennings says that the breaks along the rural transmission line from the river are the culprit of the discoloration in the water. He says the village is currently working on ways to limit those breaks and possibly find a way to limit the amount of discolored water entering the village’s water lines. He says there is no way in knowing how fast one of the breaks are caught and the amount of water that it will discolor currently. He says the new alert system is being pursued in next year’s budget; and for now, the village will work on better communication with water customers on boil orders and notifications.