UPDATE: City of Neillsville lifts water boil advisory - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: City of Neillsville lifts water boil advisory

Neillsville (WQOW) - UPDATE (2/19/14): The City of Neillsville has announced that the city's water is safe to drink. The boil order is no longer in effect.
Neillsville (WQOW) - UPDATE (2/17/14): The City of Neillsville boil water advisory will be in effect until at least Wednesday morning, February 19th.
The first water sample was taken Monday morning, Feb. 17th, with the results of that test available Tuesday, Feb. 18th. The second sample will be taken Tuesday morning, with results available Wednesday, Feb. 19th.
Neillsville (WQOW)- After dry faucets sent a small town on a big search, things are running smoothly in Neillsville.  The city suspected multiple water main breaks were to blame, it turns out there was only one. It's since been fixed.

Neillsville's police chief says the fluctuation in the water pressure is what caused some hydrants to leak and gave the appearance that there were multiple water main breaks. The problem was discovered late Thursday. At one time it was thought there could be as many as 5 water main breaks throughout the city.

After some searching the break was found Friday night under a fire hydrant, right in front of the fire hall, which had been flooded in standing water.

Per DNR rules the water will be tested for contamination. In the meantime, the city is still asking residents to boil water until further notice. The police chief says it could take a few days before all the necessary testing is complete.


Neillsville (WQOW) - It's not what you typically hear on a Saturday morning in Neillsville. A brew of water stirred underground, while up above, city crews worked tirelessly repairing the main water line break. David Flynn, the director of public works for Neillsville, said, "When the leak inspectors were here last night, they started systematically working our way down and everything led right to here and it showed us where it was at."

After some searching, the main water line break was finally found Friday night under a fire hydrant, located in front of the Fire Hall, which was flooded in standing water. Matt Meyer, the fire chief of the Fire Hall, said, "They (city crews) didn't know where it was for sure, that they knew they had a problem here, but they didn't think that was the major problem, I guess. Then last night they called me again and that they had it isolated down here and that's when we had to turn it back on and got re flooded again."

But the flood and frozen hydrants didn't stop Chief Meyer and his firemen from their duties. "Yesterday afternoon, we went over to the crick here and took a chain and saw into the ice and tried to make a place where we could get water because we weren't able to use any of the hydrants in town for a while there. So we had a water source set up in the crick right behind the fire station where we could get water out of," Meyer said.

The after effects of the water line breaks trickled across town. A carwash in town closed up shop Friday to avoid any damage to its washing equipment. Lubo Hanuszczak, a car wash attendant, said, "We were concerned there were would be particles in the water from the water line breaks, getting into the sophisticated equipment that we have here, and that would have been a much larger headache than being closed for the day."

A local dine-in also had to close its doors early yesterday. Becky Oldham, a waitress at Donna's Country Kitchen, said, "We were closed for majority of the day (Friday), only open for about four hours, and then today it's been really hard, really hectic trying to boil all the water to use it."

While he doesn't know the exact amount, Flynn said repair services will be costly. "This is a kind of the worst nightmare for a director in the public works department," Flynn said.

Neillsville (WQOW) - A city, forced to play detective because of water main breaks, has solved the mystery.  Crews could not locate all of the trouble spots until Friday night.
It was a rough day in Neillsville on Friday.  Most of the city was without water in the morning.   There were believed to be five water main breaks.  Utility crews were having a hard time finding all of them, but on Friday night, the mayor says the search is over.  A major break was found near the fire hall.  Crews will begin digging near the fire hall Saturday morning to make the repairs.  The mayor believes the boil water advisory will be in place until at least Tuesday.

Neillsville (WQOW) -  Water main breaks are not uncommon in the winter, but what's happening in Neillsville is.

There are several water main breaks and the city has been unable to locate every one. Crews have been working around the clock searching for the source.

"It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It's underground, and that's difficult," said Steve Mabie, Neillsville's Mayor.

Utility crews in Neillsville are looking for a pair of illusive water main breaks that have already taken a toll on the city.

"We probably had at least 90 percent of our residents were out of water during the early morning hours," Mabie said.

While three smaller water main breaks have already been found and isolated, there are two others the city cannot pinpoint.

"The break has been emptying into the sewer system. That doesn't normally happen. It's like a perfect storm, where you have a amount of water going into the sewer system and ending up at the treatment plant instead of boiling up where you can see it," explained Mabie.

The city's main water tower, which holds 250,000 gallons, was drained overnight. That created another problem.  The fluctuation in water pressure cracked a service pipe leading into the town fire hall. And both the Clark County Courthouse and Neillsville schools were kept closed Friday while crews kept working.

"What they've been doing is isolating areas and trying to find out where to dig to see if they can locate that break that's causing the draw down in the water tower," Mabie said.

A boil advisory has been issued by the DNR and for the time being, the mayor is asking for help from city residents.

"We would like to have them conserve water if at all possible, because of the fact that it's been a drain on our wells."

The public works director says they've called in a leak detection team from the Minneapolis – St. Paul area to help identify the two remaining breaks.


Neillsville (WQOW) - UPDATE: Leak experts are being called in from Minneapolis and St. Paul to help local crews find two mystery water main breaks.
Neillsville crews have been able to locate three water main breaks and isolate them. Most residents are now seeing regular water supply.  
They believe the two leaks they have not found yet are on W. 7th St., between Hewett St. and Grand Ave., and on E. 6th St., between Hewett St. and Court St.
Neillsville (WQOW) - Almost 90% of Neillsville residents were without water early this morning due to four or five separate water main breaks.  Crews have been able to locate most of them, but they still haven't been able to find where the largest main break is. 
Water is draining from the water main down into the sewer system instead of up to the ground surface, which they say is why they can't locate the source. Crews say they know this because the water treatment plant is seeing four times its normal volume and the water is basically clear when it comes in.
Crews say at least a quarter million gallons of water has been lost so far.  The city's fire house has standing water.  Crews are currently shutting off valves and trying to determine where the main break is.  They're also lifting manhole covers, looking for large amounts of water backed up. They believe it's under a street downtown. 

Neillsville Mayor Steve Mabie says it could be next week before the boil water advisory is lifted. 
UPDATE: 7 a.m.
The Neillsville mayor says the Clark County Courthouse will be closed today (Friday) because of a water main break.
Crews continue to work on finding the source in order to make necessary repairs. Residents are urged to avoid any unnecessary water usage and reduce usage where possible.
The Neillsville School District also closed schools today.
UPDATE: 10:45 p.m.
Authorities say the source of the leak has not been located.  The system is having difficulty keeping up based on the water it is losing.  City crews are still working to resolve the issue.  Neillsville has canceled school on Friday because of the issue.
Neillsville (WQOW) - According to Mayor Steve Mabie of Neillsville, the City of Neillsville has experienced a significant water main break in their water system.
A press release from the City of Neillsville reports that crews are out working to detect the location of the leak and once located make repairs. Residents will experience  a reduction in water pressures to their homes and businesses and are asked to avoid any unnecessary water usage and reduce normal usage where possible.
There is no estimated time for repairs to be completed as of right now.
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