Some folks in our city’s water department had the luck of Friday the 13th a week early. A joint in a 20-inch diameter water main broke apart, and before it was over much of the city was under a boil water advisory. The rupture spilled 3.3 million gallons of water, more than I can really imagine.

A disruption of this magnitude causes you to realize how much you take water for granted. There was no pure water to drink, make ice, do dishes or cook food. It was like visiting an underdeveloped country where you only used what came pre-packaged instead of out of the tap.

Suddenly bottled water became the hot commodity. Retailers scrambled to get extra pallets in to accommodate the influx of giant orders for the liquid. The school district alone used 129 cases to distribute among buildings, not to mention the water needed for the 5500 residents in the area. Within hours, store marquees heralded “bottled water here” at places lucky enough to have nimble distribution systems.

The disruption lasted about 48 hours, and only impacted part of the town. Think of what it would have been if caused by natural disaster or terror where it would undoubtedly be more widespread and lengthy. 

On the spectrum of what you would need in a disaster, fresh water is high (highest?) on the list. Maybe you should stock up a case or two to have on hand in case your lucky rabbit’s foot (or water main) fails you.

beth triplett

Source: Water main breaks: boil order in effect by Alicia Yager, Telegraph Herald, May 4, 2016, p. 1A and
Schools, businesses keeping hydrated by Allie Hinga, Telegraph Herald, May 5, 2016, p. 1A

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