WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The City called Watertown is running out of water.
The call came in around 3 a.m. on October 13, when a water main in Watertown broke. City residents and businesses were warned of the break and urged to boil water if water pressure dropped.
However, by mid-morning, the issue intensified. Schools in the Watertown City School District dismissed early and Samaritan Medical Center began limiting patient care.
Watertown City Manager Kenneth Mix confirmed that the break was on a major water line that connected the City’s water treatment facility to its main reservoir in Thompson Park.
“The two lines in front of the filtration plant are the lines carried up to the reservoirs,” Mix said. “So if we can’t get water up to the reservoir, because they serve over 95% of the population in Watertown, the reservoirs are drawn down. So we run out of water.”
As crews rushed to find the underground break, City officials issued emergency boil water notices and warned that the city would soon run out of water.
However, according to Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith, the issue extends out of the city limits.
“It’s not just the city of Watertown that’s lost water, it’s surrounding communities that we supply water to,” Smith explained. “The town of Watertown, the town of Pamelia, Fort Drum.”
Fort Drum has a resiliency plan for water supply, so at the time of the break, the installation began using its well. In total, the break impacts up to 50,000 people in the area.
The City has worked with New York State to establish a 24/7 emergency water distribution site. This will be held at the Watertown Fairgrounds.
Because even when the break is found, water won’t come back on immediately.
“Once that fix is done, we then have to add water back to that system. You’re talking about millions and millions of gallons of water and that could take 24 to 36 hours,” Mayor Smith stated. “And you want to do it in a slow process so you don’t overburden and cause more breaks and worsen, suspecting and probably there will be more breaks.”
While crews work as quickly as possible, water restoration will take several days. Those in the Watertown area are urged to stock up on bottled water until the emergency boil water notice is lifted.
This continues to be a developing story. Check back with ABC50 for additional details on Watertown’s water emergency.