by Phil Clark
The Big Water public water system was recently hit by lightning and the main well pump has failed. The town activated its backup well, which hadn’t been operated in some time and is currently operating at around one third of normal capacity, or some 130 gallons per minute. During the same storm, an unrelated transformer in town was struck by lightning and caught fire.
A major delay in restoring service is that the failure wasn’t immediately known and was discovered as the July 4 weekend was underway. Obtaining services of a well contractor was difficult since many contractors had released their employees to go on vacation.
Mayor Schmuker was able to obtain another pump and a contractor to work on the system. The contractor will also check the backup well and pump to determine what needs to be done to restore production to normal.
According to the Big Water Fire and Rescue Facebook Page: “The well pump and motor failed on the main well. The secondary (backup) well is pumping at 130 gallons per minute. There is a well pump and motor here locally. (On July 5) a well service (contractor) will arrive and set up to pull pump and motor (on July 6) and install a new pump. (The contractor) will also work (on the) secondary pump to increase its volume.”
Hyrum Short, a local resident, in an online post stated, “Our (water) tank has less than two feet of water in it and is lowering.” Over the past 24 hours, the water system produced about 28,000 gallons, enough to keep the taps flowing, but not enough to fill the storage tank or for residents to use water as they are accustomed to.
Residents are further urged to be extra careful with water and limit water usage only to essential uses. The water storage tank holds approximately 150,000 gallons to serve some 320 users. Overnight, the town’s main water storage tank increased its available water to some 28,000 gallons. Since water storage is about 18 percent of maximum, affecting the fire department’s ability to fight fires, residents are asked not to build fires or use fireworks.
While this is an emergency situation, the town is not in danger of running out of water since the backup well is producing water. Filling residential and business water storage tanks only makes the water situation worse and residents are asked not to fill water tanks. Residents of Big Water are asked to limit water use and foregoing vehicle washing, irrigation and all non-essential and high water uses until the water system is restored to normal operations.