Mandatory boil order for Stanford water

Residents urged to conserve water for fire protection
Thursday, December 6, 2018

A major water leak in Stanford, appearing to have started around November 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving, caused water pressure to substantially drop to less than 15 psi. This drop in pressure has prompted a mandatory boil order for drinking water.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has a threshold set at 35 psi for water pressure; anything less requires boiling, Mayor Kent Ridgeway explained in a conversation with the Judith Basin Press. This is because water pushed out into the perimeter, where it is potentially in contact with bacteria, moves back into the well when the pressure drops, Ridgeway said. The color may also be affected due to sediments in the water lines becoming loose as a result of the drop in water pressure, explained Ridgeway.

Notifying residents

City employees went door-to-door on Friday, November 30, to notify residents. Residents were urged to boil drinking water and to conserve water. Additionally, residents were advised to keep a bathtub full of water "in case the situation worsens to provide an emergency water supply for flushing toilets," as written in the Emergency Water System Notice.

Fire protection

The town's water tank is currently empty, according to Ridgeway. The fire hydrants cannot be used because it would collapse the main line to use them without water in the tank. The only water resources to put out fires would be that in the fire trucks, Ridgeway said.

To conserve water, minimize flushing toilets, showers, laundry and washing dishes. Dishes and laundry can still be washed, but be conservative, and make sure it is a full load, Ridgeway advised. As a precaution, one might also consider using bottled or boiled water for teeth brushing and any water that could be consumed.

Bottled water

Immediately following this notice, bottled water filled shopping carts at D's Grocery in Stanford.

D's Store Manager Diana Killham said, "We were almost cleaned out [of bottled water]"

Fortunately, there was an emergency back up pallet of water in the back of the store, and more water has been ordered. 

If you would like to conserve plastic, Big Spring Water out of Lewistown can also deliver water right to your house by calling them at 406-538-3433 to set up an account. They re-use their water containers and deliver every other Thursday. D's also carries larger containers of Big Spring Water.

Status of leak

As of Monday, December 3, two leaks had been located. According to Mayor Ridgeway, the leaks are estimated at around 30 - 40 gallons per minute, or 43,200 - 57,600 gallons per day. The boil order will be lifted when lthe eaks are stopped enough to fill the water tower. A timeline for the repair was not yet available.

New well being drilled

On Friday, November 30, drilling started on a new well for the Town of Stanford. This well is separate from the leak and has been in the planning stages for a couple of years or more.

Drilling is currently occurring around the clock, 24/7. If you have been hearing a steady noise in Stanford, like the sound of aircrafts overhead or distant machinery, it is because of the new well being drilled.

Riggeway said the well drilling will be cornpleted in at least 90 days, and possibly as few as 45 days. Funding issues, such as losing state grant funds due to budget changes at the state level, delayed drilling.

The effect on water rates, which are expected to go up around $35 per household per month, will be discussed next week at the Stanford Town Council's Public Hearing starting at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall on Central Ave. on Monday, Dec. 10. A resolution to increase the rates will go before the council for approval at this meeting.

The Madison Aquifer

The goal for drilling the new swell is to reach the Madison Aquifer, which may be as far as 4,000 feet down. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Madison aquifer underlies five U.S. states (Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska) as well as three Canadian Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba).

Springs from the Madison aquifer include Big Springs of Lewistown, which is Lewistown's water supply, and Giant Springs near Great Falls.