MARATHON — Village officials are searching for the cause of a major water main rupture that has left Marathon’s water towers and tanks dry, and are asking residents to conserve and boil water.
Those residents with an electric water heater are also asked to turn off power to the heater in case it runs out of water but continues to heat its tank, said Mayor William McGovern. A dry, overheating tank could cause a fire, McGovern said in an interview with Publisher and Owner Tim Bennett.
Crews started searching for the leak around 1 a.m., but more than eight hours later have yet to locate the broken section of pipe, McGovern said. What is clear is that a significant amount of water is leaking out of the water system, he said.
“The reason I say that is our towers, our tanks here, are empty,” McGovern said. “Whatever is leaking is leaking significantly and we’ve never had a leak such as this.”
The village is shipping in specialized equipment to help workers isolate the rupture, he said. Meanwhile, workers are going through the village shutting off water valves one by one to try to discover and isolate the break.
Once a leak is discovered, it will take hours to replace the pipe, said McGovern. But the Village may be under a boil water advisory for days, until water testing by the County Health Department indicates the water is safe to drink, he said.
“We have notified the health department,” said McGovern. “Typically they will take samples of the water and do a lab analysis that would at some point release us from the boil water.”
But the water main is so large, all bets are off about how long it will actually take to repair once it is found.
“This break here, we’re feeling that this is something that’s going to be significant, so that we cannot put a timeline on it,” said McGovern.
During a boil water advisory, residents and their pets should avoid consuming unboiled tap water in any way — including in ice, cooking water, in baby formula and when brushing their teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The federal agency also states tap water should be boiled at a full, rolling boil for at least one minute. The CDC also recommends residents:
- Use bottled or boiled water for drinking, and to prepare and cook food.
- If bottled water is not available, bring water to a full rolling boil for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes), then allow it to cool before use.
- Boil tap water even if it is filtered.
- Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water line, such as ice and water from a refrigerator.
- Breastfeeding is the best infant feeding option. If you formula feed your child, provide ready-to-use formula, if available.
In order to turn off an electric water heater, residents should find its breaker on their main electric circuit breaker, according to waterheaters.com.