This file photo shows a round basin that is the first stop in processing Osawatomie’s water. The basin sits high above the Marais des Cygnes River, where four pumps pull river water uphill to begin the filtration process. Osawatomie officials announced Wednesday, Feb. 17, that the water intake and distribution process was being hindered by frozen lines due to the extreme cold and they were asking residents to conserve water use.

OSAWATOMIE — The city of Osawatomie on Wednesday, Feb. 17, asked residents and businesses to conserve water over the next 12 hours to preserve supplies while crews worked to unthaw the water plant’s frozen intake line from the Marais des Cygnes River.

The frozen line represented just one of the hardships that municipalities and their residents endured during the bitter cold snap that saw temperatures drop below zero for a prolonged stretch that week.

Osawatomie already had been battling to keep its power on, as did neighboring communities, because extreme cold temperatures taxed the region’s energy supply and led to controlled, rolling blackouts in some areas to prevent larger outages.

“The city of Osawatomie continues to battle against the elements to keep our utilities online during this historical, record-breaking extreme cold,” city officials said in a news release issued early Wednesday, Feb. 17. “Our community is now facing a second set of critical utility challenges with water intake and distribution due to frozen lines.

“The continued severe winter weather has resulted in the primary water intake line from the Marais des Cygnes River being frozen where it is exposed above ground leading into the plant,” according to the release.

Utility crews brought in additional heaters to get the line reopened, but city officials said it would be several hours before it is fluid enough to pull water from the river into the plant for treatment and distribution.

In the meantime, the city asked for assistance from the community to preserve the supply in the city’s water towers by conserving as much water as possible in residences and businesses.

“Please be aware of your water use and do everything you can to reduce your consumption through the day today,” city officials said Feb. 17. “If our towers run out of water before the primary intake line is reopened, we will not be able to refill them and the public water supply will be empty.

“In addition to homes and businesses being without water, empty towers would also mean empty fire hydrants and our Fire Department would be unable to effectively fight any level of fire as their trucks hold a limited amount of water and would be unable to pull from the hydrants.”

Residents across Miami County reported broken water pipes caused by the deep freeze. Some cities also dealt with water line breaks.

Osawatomie urged the community to conserve all utilities.

“Electric, natural gas, and water distribution systems are all interconnected and this extended severe weather has tested each system to their limits across the entire Midwest,” the city said. “We are not the only community facing these issues, and we are not the only community requesting conservation efforts across the board.”

The city put out the following statement regarding the utility emergency:

“As a municipality, the safety of our residents is always our primary concern and we are doing everything within our capabilities to keep our utilities on and functioning during this bitter cold. However, we cannot succeed in our efforts without the need for continued sacrifice from our residents and businesses. This is an ‘it takes a village’ moment and we are depending on our village to keep stepping up, staying together, and helping us reach the 40-degree Fahrenheit light at the end of the tunnel.”

Temperatures started to warm up by the weekend into the upper 30s and climbed to about 60 degrees by Monday, Feb. 22.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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