The Town of Twisp quickly repaired a broken water main serving the neighborhoods north of the Twisp River after a contractor accidentally ruptured the main on July 8.
Because of the broken main, the town had promptly issued an advisory to residents of the affected area to boil tap water because of the potential for contamination that might result from reduced water pressure in the line.
The boil order was rescinded on July 9, after tests showed that the water was not contaminated, Twisp Public Works Director Andrew Denham said.
“Recent test samples show the absence of E. coli bacteria, confirming the water is safe for drinking,” the town said in an advisory to residents in the affected neighborhoods.
On July 8, the town sent out a notification of the boil order, and public works staff went door-to-door contacting residents in the neighborhoods north of the Twisp River, where a major water system upgrade project is underway.
That day, water samples were collected and rushed to Okanogan County Health for testing, Denham said. The results came back negative for contaminants.
“We expected it would come back negative,” Denham said. The town then repeated the notification process, sending an alert to residents and going door-to-door again.
The water main break occurred in what is known as the North Town project. Construction recently began on the project, which includes replacement of the 80-year-old water system, new individual service lines, increased fire flow, sewer repairs, and road surface improvements in the neighborhoods north of the Twisp River.
“We had back-to-back breaks and had to take the [existing] line down,” Denham said. He said state health department requirements call for boiling water advisories and tests for contaminants when water pressure in a main drops below a certain level. That’s because of the possibility of contaminants entering the main from another source, Denham said.
The water main break put the construction project behind schedule, Denham said. He will be working with the contractor on ways to make up for lost time, he added.
A possible explanation for the main rupture is that in 1977 the town replaced sewer lines in the area, and in the process, the existing water lines may have been realigned slightly. The contractor will now be required to attempt making immediate on-the-spot repairs if there are any other disruptions. Denham said he and his staff are “taking more precautions now to avoid unplanned disruptions.”
The water system in the neighborhoods was last upgraded in 1939, Denham said. Before that, the system consisted of wooden water mains wrapped with wire that were installed in 1912. The contractor has excavated some remaining portions of that line, Denham said.