Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

About those water woes

January 12, 2006

We were pleased when we saw that City Administrator Jeff Dingman had put a report on last week's water supply on this week's city council agenda. We wanted answers and felt like that would be a perfect place for them.

It was a surprise when there wasn't a single Baldwin resident at the meeting to voice concerns or even find out what went wrong that caused a two-day water boil advisory in the city. There was plenty of outcry last week during the height of the debacle.

It caused a run on bottled water in Baldwin. It closed the fast food places, as well as most restaurants. People had to be careful with the water. Common practices had to be altered, like making coffee and even brushing teeth. If nothing else, it was inconvenient.

Questions arose about how people were notified. It has woken the city up to the need for a listing of businesses. The retirement homes were notified and as many daycares as possible. But, some were missed. Most people learned of the problem via word of mouth and the Signal's Web site at, which is the only option available in the city for breaking news.

Luckily, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment waved the all-clear flag when tests Thursday found that Baldwin's water was fine.

But that it was even an issue was perplexing. How did the system fail? How did the warning system fail? Why wasn't it discovered until Tuesday, two days after work crews had repaired the water pipe from Lawrence which started the whole mess?

We were perplexed by the answers, or the lack of them, given to the council Monday night. We were also surprised that the council didn't ask specific questions regarding the system failure. We were pleased to hear that it wouldn't happen again.

But, that wasn't enough for us. We asked Dingman the next day and he provided the lengthy answer that's in today's Signal. When push came to shove, it was computers and -- specifically software -- that was at fault. The system was thoroughly analized, troubleshooting was done, as were tests. We are convinced by the answers that it will never happen again.

However, never is a very long time.

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