A break in an industrial service line was the cause of an unusually large boil order being issued on Thanksgiving day in Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville water treatment plant began receiving calls of low water pressure across the west side of town at about 9:30 Thursday morning. Municipal Utilities Superintendent Ricky Hearin says around that same time, personnel at the water plant were noticing a sudden spike in water usage meaning there was a break somewhere in the system.
Hearin says by the amount of water being used, it was clear it was not your average water main break. “It was just getting worse and we were losing a lot of water out of the Veterans [Park] tower, it was dropping pretty quick. We had to bring in lake water and fire the water plant up quite a bit to try to keep up with it, and we were still losing water.
At the time we had people out driving the streets checking ditches and stuff looking for water trying to find this break. It turned out we found it out behind Nestlé’s building, and it was their fire line that broke. That’s a ten-inch main feeding that so all of our water was going out into the field out there.”
The Jacksonville water plant is fed by water from the Illinois River that is pumped from a station near Naples. Lake Mauvaisterre serves as an emergency backup supply for the plant.
Hearing says the average water main line supplying Jacksonville’s neighborhoods is between four and six inches in diameter by comparison to the ten-inch line that broke Thursday morning. Hearin says once the break was located, Nestlé maintenance personnel were able to shut the line down and the water plant was able to begin building pressure in the system again.
Hearin says because the pressure fell to such a low level, state regulations require that a boil order had to be issued. “None of our system broke, it was out there at Nestlé’s fire line so our pipes are still intact. But we still dropped enough pressure that they say sometimes that can suck stuff into your water lines. So it’s just a good precaution to go ahead and have a boil order to make sure everything is safe.”
Hearin says the boil order that covers a large swath of the southwestern part of the city will likely be in effect through the beginning of next week. He says the EPA lab is closed until Monday, so water samples from the system can’t be collected and sent until then.
Hearin hopes that results will be available sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday that will allow for the order to be lifted. But as for now, residents in the affected area are asked to boil all water used for cooking and drinking.
He says as of early this morning, the water system is back to normal operating levels and no water usage restrictions are in place at this time.
We will bring you updates on the boil order status as soon as they become available.
A boil order is now in effect for the following locations until further notice (SEE MAP): starting on the north side of West Morton Avenue to West Lafayette Avenue between South Westgate Avenue and Illinois Route 104; also including all residences on South Westgate over to South Grand between Mound Road and West Lafayette Avenue.