CITY OF ELGIN - TAPPED OUT
Photo Credit: 
Photo courtesy of Kyle Pvirre
Sediment and air trapped inside water lines caused residents to voice concerns after the City of Elgin's water supply was unexpectedly turned off on Oct. 4, during an emergency valve replacement.
Sediment and air trapped inside water lines caused residents to voice concerns after the City of Elgin's water supply was unexpectedly turned off on Oct. 4, during an emergency valve replacement.

ELGIN - Residents and businesses inside the City of Elgin were unexpectedly left without water for over two hours on Friday.

Mayor Larry Thoma said initially he thought the emergency replacement of a valve was going to be a relatively simple fix and may cause temporary low water pressure around the city. Ultimately, more valves had to be turned off to complete the repair than was first anticipated, which resulted in the water temporarily being shut off.

SUDDEN LACK OF WATER

According to Clerk Treasurer Machelle Reynolds, workers turned off the water to the city at about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 4, as they replaced a valve near 1st Street. So many complaints poured into Elgin City Hall that Machelle said she was asked by several people if the office was having problems with their phone system. Machelle said there wasn't a problem with city hall's phones, there just weren't enough lines to handle the incoming call volume. Concerned citizens, owners of hair salons and businesses on hold with waiting lunch crowds, all placed calls inquiring about the sudden lack of water, she said.

WATER OFF DURING SCHOOL LUNCH HOUR

According to Nate Meraz, Superintendent of Elgin Public Schools, he was able to contact Mayor Thoma directly and track the repair progress minute-by-minute. Since the water was shut off during the school's lunch hour, Nate said he had to weigh the decision about whether or not to send the students home for the day if progress on the water repair wasn't made fairly quickly. After receiving regular updates, Nate said the students and staff "hung in there" until the situation was eventually resolved. Lingering complaints from area residents touched on cloudy and dirty, sediment contaminated water along with low water pressure.

Nate said while the school's water appears clear once again, the water pressure at EPS hasn't recently returned to normal yet and will need to be looked into. Mayor Thoma said cloudy water after a water line repair is to be expected. "When you have an open line inside a hole with dirt, you're going to get some sediment," he said. The newly replaced valve is considered to be a part of "routine maintenance" the mayor said, and is considered an improvement to Elgin's water system.