Boil order continues for Shawnee water

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star
City of Shawnee crews work to fix a water main break during frigid conditions.

According to a Shawnee alert Tuesday, residents are being asked to continue following the water boil advisory until further notice.

The City of Shawnee issued a mandatory boil order Saturday, urging residents to take precautions as the water supply has been facing many challenges after days of water main breaks, more than double the normal water usage and frigid winter weather.

Throughout the cold temperatures, the plant has used more than a month's supply of certain chemicals used in the treatment process, the Facebook post reads from the City of Shawnee page.

Because of the high demand, suppliers have been experiencing challenges replenishing necessary chemicals.

Though the city was critically low on the required chemicals for treatment, the water treatment plant staff and chemical suppliers found and were able to purchase the needed chemicals to get things back on track.

However, for safety, the city has chosen to continue with a precautionary boil advisory until further notice.

Until then, extra care is encouraged.

“Boil your water at a hard, rolling boil for at least one minute before consumption, drinking, use in food preparation (including baby formula), brushing teeth, making ice, wound care, and bathing infants who may ingest the water, or use another drinking water source such as bottled water until the tap water is safe to drink again,” the post reads.

Late Tuesday evening, an update stated the water plant has been able to fully pressurize its water distribution system.

“If you are still experiencing low or no pressure, contact the utility number at (405) 273-1960, or the non-emergency number at (405) 273-2121, and a dispatcher will take information and route to the utility department,” the update reads.

“We understand the boil advisory is extremely inconvenient for our residents and businesses, however; it is for the safety of all citizens,” the post reads. “We are currently testing our water and as soon as we have lab results returned to us assuring high quality drinking water is throughout our distribution system we will be lifting the boil advisory.”

According to the CDC, at cdc.gov, during a boil water advisory, residents should boil water or use bottled water for preparing food, cooking food and for drinking.

“Boil tap water, even if it's filtered,” the CDC recommends.

Though the CDC urges residents to follow guidance from local authorities, it does offer some general advice, as well:

Hand-washing

• In many situations, you can use tap water and soap to wash hands. Follow the guidance from your local public health officials.

• Be sure to scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and rinse them well under running water.

• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Bathing and showering

• Be careful not to swallow any water when bathing or showering.

• Use caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.

Brushing teeth

• Brush teeth with boiled or bottled water. Do not use untreated tap water.

Washing dishes

• If possible, use disposable plates, cups, and utensils during a boil water advisory.

• Household dishwashers generally are safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65.55°Celsius), or if the dishwater has a sanitizing cycle.

• Sterilize all baby bottles.

To wash dishes by hand:

• Wash and rinse the dishes as you normally would using hot water.

• In a separate basin, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household liquid bleach for each gallon of warm water.

• Soak the rinsed dishes in the water for at least one minute.

• Let the dishes air dry completely before using again.

Laundry

• It is safe to wash clothes as usual.

Cleaning

• Use bottled water, boiled water, or water that has been disinfected with bleach to clean washable toys and surfaces.

Caring for pets

• Pets can get sick by some of the same germs as people or spread germs to people. Provide bottled or boiled water after it has been cooled for pets to use.

• If bottled water is not available, bring water to a full rolling boil for one minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes), then allow it to cool before use.

• Boil tap water even if it is filtered.

• Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water line, such as ice and water from a refrigerator.

Caring for the garden and houseplants

• Tap water can be used for household plants and gardens.

Even though alerts and posts on social media have been circulating for days, some residents have posted concerns about not knowing about the boil order immediately.

As of Monday afternoon, neither the local hospital, physicians, nor the clinic had seen any influx of sickness related to the water situation, SSM Health St. Anthony-Shawnee Hospital Communications and Marketing Consultant Carla Tollett said.

Utilities Director Brad Schmidt said the treatment process had been disrupted for only about four hours while staff was transitioning to the current process.

The boil order has caused some local businesses, especially restaurants, to make adjustments. While some have chosen to shut their doors and wait it out, others have gotten resourceful, selling bottled beverages and purchasing bags of ice from outside the area.

An announcement will be made as soon as the city is certain the new treatment process has been deemed successful.

Watch for updates.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.