People in Salem coping with boil water advisory - WDRB 41 Louisville News

People in Salem coping with boil water advisory

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SALEM, IND. (WDRB) -- The boil water advisory affecting the entire city of Salem, Indiana continued Wednesday, despite the fact that the eight-inch water main break that sparked it has been repaired.

It turns out a series of events made a bad situation worse. 

As cleanup crews washed away the mess of clay outside KD's Backroads Restaurant, owner Dennis Martin remembered a shriek from his wife when she saw what was happening outside.  "She goes, 'Honey, you need to look at the parking lot.'  And then I said, 'Oh yeah, we got a major problem here.'"

A small leak underground turned into a full-on water main break as crews tried to fix it.  As Russell Brown, Salem Water Superintendent, explains, "You got an eight-inch line, you're probably running 70-thousand gallons a minute."

The main break happened at Parkview and Hackenberry, and it has since been fixed. But the water spewed for five hours and the bigger problem is it didn't have a shutoff valve, and the city didn't know it.

Water gushed, enough to fill more than 20 Olympic-size swimming pools.  The way the pipes are set up, it drained from all five water towers in town.  An outside contractor had to make the repair.

Salem resident Rosetta Todd says, "I couldn't flush the stool or use water to cook or anything."  She and the rest of the city were forced to boil their water until the city gives the OK.

Workers are testing.  Brown says, "We'll take eight system-wide samples and take them back to the lab and then within 24 hours we'll have the results on them."

Restaurant owner Ladonna Mitchell says local restaurants have to eat the cost:  "Fountain Cokes do not work because it goes with a water line, your coffee pot goes with a water line, ice to a water line.  So I was out this morning buying bottles of water and gallons of water and two-liter drinks."

The first round of testing was OK.  Water crews will take eight more random samples on Thursday.  We're told if they are OK, the earliest the boil water in Salem will be lifted is Friday at noon.

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