Mapleton asks customers to conserve water


Mapleton schools close for at least a day as water district works on solution

Nov. 16, 2021 — On Sunday, Nov. 14, the Mapleton Water District (MWD) Board of Directors sent out a release asking local consumers to conserve water. 

According to Board Member Sharon Schrenk, “This is critical, as the plant is down.”

MWD Vice Chair Dustin Basurto, who is managing much of the district’s operations, also confirmed that the plant is down and that the water district is working on a solution.

People are being asked to conserve water until further notice.

In the meantime, Fred Meyer and Lane County Emergency Management are donating palettes of water to Mapleton citizens short on water.

The situation was updated on Monday night, when Mapleton School District announced that all school activities would be canceled Tuesday, Nov. 16. The district cited “water shortage and equipment failure” for the school cancelation.  

On Tuesday, Basurto worked with Oregon Association of Water Utilities and what he called the “A-Team” to bring in a giant trailer with a sand media filter to pre-filter raw water coming into Mapleton’s plant.

“They drove over on Monday and sized us up,” Basurto said. “We have to widen the road coming into the plant for the trailer.”

As of press time Tuesday, it was unknown when the conserve water notice would be lifted for Mapleton residents.

Mapleton first began having water troubles a year ago, when MWD issued a boil notice for all drinking and cooking water in July 2020. This was due to a failure in the district’s water plant filter. MWD was able to place a water skid, or a temporary water storage tank, that fall, after requiring water consumers to boil water for four months.

A protracted investigation of the problem with distributing clean, drinkable water eventually determined the damage was caused by equipment failure at the district’s main station, in the wake of the Sweet Creek wildfires in early September and late August 2020. The MWD water system was used by firefighters battling the blaze, which consumed nearly 400 acres.

In addition, after the temporary skid was placed, MWD water consumers next dealt with unexpectedly large bills. This led to complaints that the MWD board was inconsistent with communication with the community. MWD responded by holding a public meeting over Zoom in March, where residents were able to voice concerns and connect with the board. The board has continued opened communication throughout much of the year.

The MWD board has been working with an advisor team of water engineers on the decision for a new water treatment plant. In September, the board estimated the new treatment plant could be up and running by spring 2022, with the plant paid for by a grant from the State of Oregon.

At the November meeting, the MWD board voted to fill an open position. The board consists of Chair Millie Rochon, Vice Chair Basurto, Secretary Vanessa West and board members Bryan Moore and Schrenk.

Those with questions can call Mapleton Water District office at 541-268-4348. For information on the Mapleton School District, visit www.mapleton.k12.or.us.

Update: 

Lane County Emergency Management and Lane County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) have partnered to provide drinking water to Mapleton residents as the Mapleton Water District seeks repairs on its equipment.

Drinking water will be available for Mapleton Water District customers at 88151 Riverview Avenue in Mapleton from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day while supplies last. Customers who can’t pick up water during those hours should call 541-268-4348 for after-hours access.

Update #2: 

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, after Siuslaw News went to press, Mapleton School District announced that school would be canceled on Wednesday, Nov. 17. 

"Middle School Girls' Basketball will still travel to their away game; however, all other sports practices are cancelled," the district announced.

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