EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNW) — Dozens of water breaks in Emporia are leaving many without water for hours at a time.
The city manager says the city’s main water tower was taken offline on Sept. 6.
“It is a 33-year-old water tower that we have taken offline to do some interior repairs to it,” Emporia City Manager Trey Cocking said.
The removal caused water pressure to shift in the last week, and water pressure has caused 36 water breaks in local neighborhoods.
“We’re experiencing a much higher volume than normal,” explained Cocking.
Repairs are being made to fix the issues.
“I was coming from the north and saw the street was blocked off, so I went over, and there was another water break two blocks over, and they were working on it at the same time,” Wayne Unruh, Emporia resident, said.
The maintenance is leaving many people with inconsistent water supply and lower water pressure.
“Last night, it was off, then it came on as just a trickle. It’s back on right now, but who knows,” Nancy Adams, Emporia resident, said.
Water could remain off for six to 12 hours for residents during repairs. Cocking explains there is not an immediate fix to the situation.
“We think our water tower is going to be offline for about six more weeks. We are asking our contractor is there anything they can do to speed that process along. The other thing we can do is once we get past these initial breaks where we’ve kind of stressed all these points, we think we will get closer to having a stabilized system,” he said.
The city is planning to open water hydrants near its main water plant to help relieve the water pressure.
Many locals say water breaks have been an issue for many years.
“Well, last summer, there was like 10 in one summer,” said Unruh.
“When the water comes back on, it just blows another block from there. It just seems like they’re putting a bandaid on a gaping wound,” added Adams.
Cocking says the city is working on multiple projects to reach the root of the problem. They are using $20 million in state funding to complete the projects.
“The water line that’s now broken three times was put in the ground in 1926. We’re trying to put a new water line in place to supplant it,” he said.
That plan is still awaiting city approval. If approved, construction is expected to start next summer.
“It’s always good have drinking water on hand for any emergency situation that develops,” says Cocking.
The city says people can also download the “My Alert” app to receive notifications on nearby breaks.