Major Pipe Break Drains Water From Southern Illlinois Cities

Brett Blume
May 17, 2018 - 1:21 pm

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MT. VERNON, Ill. (KMOX) -  Unless something drastic happens, the city of Mt. Vernon Illinois will completely run out of water as of 7 o'clock Thursday evening.

City manager Mary Ellen Bechtel tells KMOX News that they're down to approximately 2.5 million gallons of stored water, less than a normal day's supply.

They're at the mercy of a break that occurred within the Rend Lake Conservancy District, which supplies water to more than a half-dozen counties in southern Illinois.

"We're waiting on Rend Lake Conservancy District to ge their leak fixed," she explained. "And it appears that they're having quite a challenge. The first few things that they tried haven't worked."

Bechtel says Mt. Vernon officials are taking extreme measures to try and conserve every drop of water they can.

"We are asking our citizens and our businesses to be very careful and to implement water conservation strategies," according to Bechtel. "Use as little water as possible."

So, for instance, watering the lawn right now is a definite "DON'T".

City officials have been meeting every two hours to discuss the latest information, and are on the verge of declaring a state of emergency.

They also issued a press release:

"The City of Mt. Vernon is approaching a State of Emergency due to the major water main break at Rend Lake Conservancy District and water levels for the city and rural water districts are critically low. At this point the city has approximately 2.5 million gallons of stored water. This amount is less than a day's supply. It is our understanding that even if the repairs are made soon, it will take RLCD approximately 8 hours to start producing water. We are asking that all residents and businesses strictly limit their water usage to essential services. All non-essential services should suspend operations at this time. There will be a minmum of 4 days boil order."

"It's something that we never anticipated, but here we are," Bechtel said.

Mt. Vernon is far from the only southern Illinois community hurting for a decent water supply.

Carterville has actually run out of water as of Thursday morning, and dozens of others are instituting boil orders.

What happens if the repairs aren't made soon?

"Well, we haven't been through this before but there won't be any water and we'll be calling a state of emergency and bringing in bottled water for individuals to drink until we can get the Rend Lake Conservancy District's main line fixed," suggested Bechtel.