Emporians may return to normal water usage as city returns to ‘watch’ status

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 9:47 AM CDT
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EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - Emporians may return to normal water usage as the city has gone back into a Water Watch compared to a Water Warning.

The City of Emporia says that as of 7:10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, it has reduced its Water Warning to a Water Watch. These may be issued when water usage is increased and conservation efforts may be needed.

City Manager, Trey Cocking, said that when a water main break occurs, they will ask the community to make conservation measure to help scale back on usage.

“We’re devising a plan to mitigate this right now and we need to see how those mitigations measures work,” said Cocking. “So the most recent change, which was opening up some water hydrants close to the plant to release some of the pressure, shows that it makes a big difference throughout the community. So, we’re going to try to go ahead and execute that plan today and we’ll see how it works moving forward.”

The City originally posted the watch around 7:05 p.m. on Monday after multiple water main breaks were reported to crews. Around 9:30 p.m. the watch was upgraded to a warning and Emporians were asked to begin water conservation efforts.

Officials noted that water shortages threaten the city’s ability to meet essential needs for public safety and the community.

As of 7:10 a.m. on Tuesday, officials said residents could go back to normal water usage, however, additional efforts may be required.

Crews said they previously took one of the city’s two water towers offline to perform maintenance on the inside of the bowl. This created a shift in the water pressure pattern and caused fluctuations. The pressure has now exploited weaknesses in the pipes that are between 80 and 100 years old which has caused multiple water main breaks.

Officials noted that the City Commission has authorized $20 million in upgrades to Emporia’s waterlines. Two significant projects are expected to enhance water infrastructure:

  1. 24th Ave. Waterline Project - A new waterline is set to be installed from the water plant to 12th Ave. and Prairie St. to increase capacity and efficiency in the area. The work is expected to take about one year to complete.
  2. Southeast Transmission Main Project - A single, large pipe will be used to transport water across the entire city before distribution to mains throughout town. The design is meant to reduce water velocity in the rest of the system and make it more stable. Work will affect areas between 12th Ave. and Garfield St. to South Ave. and Carter St. The project is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

The City said the projects show its commitment to the long-term reliability of its water distribution system. While construction may cause temporary inconveniences, disruptions should be minimized and the community will be kept informed throughout the process.

Cocking said as the city looks at the best ways to move forward, it is important to have patience and support for the crews.

“Our incident command had a meeting to review everything,” said Cocking. “We had our engineers in to review the data and review the water model to see where we’ve been, where we want to go, and how do we get there.”

As of 11:10 a.m. on Tuesday, current water main breaks in the City of Emporia include:

  • 23rd St. and Hillcrest
  • West Ridge Dr.

Water main breaks for Monday include:

  • 1500 block of Washington St.
  • 1600 block of Prairie Ave.
  • 6th Ave. and Lawrence
  • Willow Lane
  • Luther St. near Village Elementary School

Cocking said that the County Commission will authorize everything Oct. 4 with plans to start mobilizing by the summer of 2024.