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Schools, Businesses Scramble To Cope With Boil Order In Normal


The Town of Normal is saying five to seven million gallons of water spilled in that overnight water main break.

"About a two-day supply, it looks like," said Dan Irvin, spokesman for the town.

Water pressure dropped so low a boil order is in place. Irvin said a utility pole contributed to the rupture.

"A leak of some kind occurred in the main. It weakened the earth around this pole which caused it to lean up against and ultimately break the pipe," said Irvin.

Even the massive loss of water in Normal overnight might not usually caused enough of a pressure drop to require a boil order. But Irvin said there was a complicating factor—a water tower.

"Gravity's effect on those towers would usually mitigate a situation like this. Unfortunately, one of the towers was undergoing maintenance and was offline. So that has certainly contributed to a perfect storm of events to make this happen," said Irvin.

He said the boil order is a precaution, and the town does not expect a true safety hazard.

Credit Staff / WGLT
Town of Normal workers getting ready to fix the broken main.

The boil order has wreaked havoc on efforts by restaurants, coffee shops, and some other businesses to operate normally, leaving them scrambling for potable water. Stores have sold a lot of bottled water.
Unit Five school district officials said they got by today, though it was a challenge.

Unit Five schools said they learned of the water situation from the radio, about 6 a.m. Spokeswoman Dayna Brown said Unit Five purchased 14 pallets of water from Hy-Vee, shut off water fountains and ice machines in schools, put up signs in public places about the boil order, and urged students to avoid drinking tap water.

Food service personnel were able to serve meals by following CDC guidelines. Brown says the district also bought 15 cases of hand sanitizer.

There were minor changes in some classes such as food prep and physical education, which scheduled less intense activities.

Unit Five also notified parents by email.

Brown says weekend activities will go on as scheduled. She says they have notified teams coming to a state volleyball event at Unit Five of the situation.

Irvin deferred to the future a question about what the town should or could do for Epiphany Catholic School, which sustained significant damage because of the water main break. He said the first priority is getting permission from the EPA to operate normally again without a boil order.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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