ELLSWORTH - Ellsworth residents need to continue to boil their consumable water and are requested to keep water usage to a minimum as crews continue to thaw the town’s water tower and repair a water main break.
According to Ellsworth Mayor Tasha Domeyer, efforts to bring fully functioning, drinkable water back to the town’s residents has been ongoing since Monday evening when a water pressure issue was first discovered by a resident.
“We’re hoping tomorrow,” Domeyer said Wednesday afternoon of when residents can tentatively begin using water like normal again. An announcement will be made on the City of Ellsworth, Minnesota Facebook page once the water boil is lifted.
Getting the “all-clear” will come from a Minnesota Department of Health official who tested the tank’s water for E. coli. The test, which Domeyer says is mandatory in situations like this and takes about 24 hours to receive results, was initiated Wednesday.
Domeyer said Ellsworth Fire Department members went door-to-door Tuesday evening distributing water to residents.
Residents were also able to pick up water at the fire hall until 7 p.m. Wednesday. If residents were unable to physically collect needed water, delivery could be requested.
After the city learned of Ellsworth’s latest misfortune Monday night, Domeyer said a team immediately began searching for the water main break.
Copious amounts of snow didn’t make the search any simpler, but it was finally located and blocked off before 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
That’s when the next issue in the expensive event was unveiled: the water tower was frozen and had only about 6 feet of water remaining in the 110,000-plus gallon tower.
Domeyer says it’s guessed that the events may be attributed to a variety of causes.
She said it’s believed the tower froze sometime on Monday, and as people naturally used less water in the evening, the pressure built and busted the main.
“The city had put an agitator in this summer in hopes this wouldn’t happen,” Domeyer said. “But it’s freezing in the cylinder below the agitator.”
That may be because the tower no longer has the windbreak protection the brick city hall building had once provided prior to its burning down in mid-January.
Thawing that big of a tower was no easy feat. According to Domeyer, a professional service from the St. Paul area came down and blasted a steam jetter to melt the ice in the tower.
Due to the break, Ellsworth Public Schools canceled school on Tuesday.
This week’s tower freezing and water main break is a more serious outcome than a similar break and frozen tower the city endured a couple of weeks ago. Those were thankfully caught before causing too much damage, Domeyer said.
This event just adds to what seems like an ongoing list of misfortunes Domeyer said residents have sadly become used to. But she tries to balance being realistic with having a sense of humor.
“There isn’t much you can do to prevent it,” she said. “There are some little things, but when Mother Nature wants to have her tantrum, then you just deal with what happens with it.”