LOUISBURG — Routine maintenance at the Spring Valley Road water tower was supposed to take less than two hours.
Louisburg Public Works Director Craig Hufferd said the Nov. 18 project turned out to be anything but routine.
“The tower was supposed to be shut down for an hour and a half,” Hufferd said. “It didn’t go as planned, and a couple of things broke. It took the tower company about two weeks to fix it.”
As a result, the Marais des Cygnes Public Utility Authority (PUA) water treatment plant moved water directly to Louisburg at a higher pressure than normal, causing the water to appear cloudy, Hufferd said.
In a prepared statement released Wednesday, Dec. 4, city officials said the water supply is safe to drink and meets state standards as verified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
“The water has been safe since we first found out about the cloudy water,” Hufferd said in an interview Wednesday morning. “We have been taking chlorine samples every day. KDHE advised us to keep the chlorine levels up and continue flushing the lines. And that’s what we have done.
“KDHE did not issue a boil order,” Hufferd said. “It’s safe to consume, and KDHE has been in the loop the whole time.”
Since Nov. 18, KDHE has issued boil water advisories for Chase County RWD No. 1 and the city of Linwood in Leavenworth County — both of which have since been rescinded — but nothing for the city of Louisburg or any location in Miami County, according to the KDHE website.
The cloudy water has been a chief concern for some residents, who have used adjectives ranging from cloudy to brown to describe the discoloration on social media posts and in calls to City Hall.
The topic of water quality came up during the Louisburg City Council meeting Monday, Dec. 2, when Councilman Steve Town asked for a status report. Hufferd reiterated water is being tested regularly and that every test has met KDHE standards.
Councilwoman Kalee Smith asked Hufferd if the water should be clear now.
“It should be very close,” Hufferd said.
The Spring Valley Road water tower went back online Friday, Nov. 29, Hufferd said.
In the prepared statement, city officials said with the tower back online, many households are reporting the water is now clear. City crews continued to flush water by opening hydrants in trouble spots on Wednesday.
Hufferd said the cloudy water effect has been like a doubled-edged sword.
“One of the tough things is we need people to use water because that helps flush out the lines,” Hufferd said. “Even though the water has been safe the whole time, the (cloudy) visual is what gets people so they aren’t using as much water.”
Hufferd said the cloudy effect should clear up soon and water was already clear in some locations.
He estimated Wednesday morning the city had flushed more than 500,000 gallons through the system to speed up the process.