Valve fails as Churdan hooks to Xenia rural water

(Edited Thursday, Nov. 27)

Hy-Vee donates bottled water

Churdan residents are heading into Thanksgiving reliant on bottled water for drinking, but the challenge is easier thanks to generous intervention by Hy-Vee. Greene County emergency management director Dennis Morlan said he is “deeply impressed” by the help from Hy-Vee, particularly since it was offered without being asked for.

After years of struggling with high nitrites in the city’s water supply, the city determined the best solution was to hook into the Xenia rural water system. The substantial infrastructure project is nearly complete. However, Monday when it came time to hook the new water lines to the Churdan water tower a valve failed, leading to possible bacterial contamination of the city’s water.

In other instances, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources would issue a boil advisory for residents, but boiling would concentrate nitrites in the water, making it unusable for all ages, not only infants. (For more than two years residents have been advised not to use the water for infants because of the nitrite level. It was safe for persons older than 6 months.)

The DNR does not require city’s to provide bottled water. When Morlan learned of the bottled-only advisory, he called local retailers. “I wanted them to be aware that they’d need to have more water on hand,” he said.

When he talked with Jefferson Hy-Vee Drugstore manager Lori Subbert, “she expressed sincere concern for the residents in Churdan,” Morlan said. She said she’d make a couple of phone calls and get back to him.

Tuesday morning at 7 am Subbert and another staff person were at the Churdan fire station to unload 167 cases of bottled water from a Hy-Vee semi. The company donated the water. There was also jugs of bottled water for the school. “I didn’t ask for anything. I gave a heads-up of a problem, and Hy-Vee came through,” Morlan said.

He said notification of the situation was easy in Churdan. The public library has a long list of email addresses and “word of mouth works well,” he said. Library director Shari Minnehan personally visited some of the senior residents, alerting them of the situation and taking them bottled water.

As of Wednesday at 11 am, the city had submitted the fourth of the four required water samples for testing. Churdan residents were notified Thursday that their water is safe to drink.

“I am deeply impressed with what the Hy-Vee store did with this,” Morlan said.

There was no requirement for Morlan to be involved, either. “We didn’t have to do anything, but that’s not how we do it in Greene County. We all look after each other,” he said.

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