WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The City of Wichita is rolling out a better way for residents can find out if there is a boil water advisory in the area.
According to the City of Wichita Communications Manager Tyler Schiffelbein, back in October of 2021, Wichita received its first boil water advisory in about 20 years. That’s when the City found a “gap” in the system.
“We didn’t have a good way to reach all of our water customers in an emergency in a timely manner, so after that, we started looking into options that we could notify all of our customers via email, text, voicemail that sort of thing,” said Schiffelbein.
Before the City could implement an alert system, the city had another boil water advisory in June of 2022.
“We decided at that point we’re going to implement a system where we had an email sign up where people could sign up, get email alerts. All the while, we’re still continuing to work on getting a system in place to notify our customers,” said Schiffelbein.
In early November, the City selected Everbridge as a vendor to notify all Wichita water customers of boil water advisories. Customers will receive an email first, then a text message, followed by a voicemail.
“We can only use those contacts for our water customers for these advisories only. We can’t send them anything else, so they won’t be getting any spam email from us or anything like that,” said Schiffelbein.
Within the alerts, customers will receive generic information and be directed to wichita.gov/alert for more information. That information will also be presented in Spanish. Customers will also be able to confirm that they received the information so that they will not get any more alerts.
“If you get the email and you confirm that you got the email, you won’t get the text or the voicemail, same with the text, then you won’t get the voicemail after that,” said Schiffelbein.
The system will cost $18,000 per year, but Schiffelbein said if there were several advisories in one year, the price could go up. He said the city was not anticipating multiple advisories in one year.
The alert will be automatically sent to all water customers who have emails or phone numbers in the system. If someone would like to receive alerts who is not a water customer or whose number is not one listed for their residence, they encourage to sign up for Sedgwick County Emergency Management’s system through Civic Ready.