Nov. 20, 2021 — It’s taken a lot of work from a lot of people, but it appears the Mapleton water shortage is nearing its end. Water is flowing to most of the roughly 270 residences that have been without for the past week, and should be in all houses by the morning of Nov. 20.
Mapleton Water District (MWD) has issued a boil water notice, which will be in effect until the stability of the filter at the treatment plant is established.
First to step up was Walker & Sons, of Mapleton, who halted the project they were working on and took on the task of widening the road to the water treatment plant in preparation for delivery of a prefiltration skid from Rent for Rain, out of Portland. The additional skid will filter water before it goes into the main treatment plant.
Coordinating the entire fix, with the MWD, is Delta Operations, of Portland.
“Progress is good,” said Eric Wick, representative of Delta Operations, who was on site on Thursday. “The stream (Berkshire Creek) has cleared up enough to where we’ve been able to produce water all through yesterday, overnight and up through today.”
Though water is flowing to residences (with a boil notice) customers are asked to continue conserving water and only using it when necessary. That way, the reservoirs will have an opportunity to fill and engineers can take proper measurements of the potability of the water. To put it in simple terms, how long the boil water notice will be in effect has everything to do with how little water residences use.
According to Wick, the reservoirs hold approximately 540,000 gallons. Mapleton uses 150,000 to 200,000 gallons a day. Right now, the treatment plant is producing about 170,000 gallons a day. To properly take the needed measurements, the reservoir must be full. It will be impossible to fill the reservoirs if water consumers don’t drastically reduce use.
“The short answer is we need water in the reservoirs before we can accurately assess whether the system has stabilized,” Wick said.
To reduce tap water usage, plenty of options are being offered for free water for MWD customers.
On Thursday Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) brought an emergency water trailer with a 1,000-gallon tank of water and jugs to fill for any MWD customers.
Also, as of Thursday, there was still bottled water left at Mapleton Food Share, 88151 Riverview Avenue in Mapleton. This was provided through Lane County Emergency Management and Lane County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD).
If MWD customers go to the food share and find there is no water left, they can call the MWD office at 541-268-4348 or Board Secretary Vanessa West at 541-999-9778 and they will coordinate the delivery of water to their house. Residents who cannot make it to pick up locations are also welcome to request delivery using the numbers above.
MWD Board Chair Mille Rochon is very appreciative of all the assistance the community has received. She credits McKenzie Mist, Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer for stepping up and donating countless bottles of water for the citizens of Mapleton.
“We are grateful to so many people,” said Rochon. “Besides the businesses that brought us water, Walker & Sons stopped the project they were in the middle of doing to help us prepare at the treatment plant. EWEB came and brought a huge tank of water. Concerned citizens have come from as far away as Coos Bay to bring us water. The community feels quite blessed.”
Rochon mentioned that if the community can make it through this hurdle, things should, hopefully, proceed as normal until a new treatment plant is installed by July 2022, equipped for the very specific situation that the Berkshire Creek water source provides.
All members of the MWD board have been working overtime in their mostly volunteer positions since this problem started.
“We ask the community to be patient,” said Bryan Moore, board member. “People like Dustin [Basurto, board vice chair] and Sharon [Schrenk, board member] have been busting their rear-ends for days and deserve a lot of credit.”
West, the newest board member, stepped into her role right before the current situation arose and has seen the community deal with water problems for quite a while.
“I think the community has been on edge about the water, even before this happened,” she said. “So, we are all excited to get past this hurdle so we can tackle the problems we were dealing with before. I think it’s been really helpful having me on the board because I can keep the community informed about what is going on and also inform the board how the community feels.”
The MWD Board of Directors meets on the second Tuesday of the month at the Mapleton Lion’s Club Community Center. The next meeting is planned for be Dec. 14.