A question of clarity - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

A question of clarity

Sewer, water line work turns Harrison Avenue water cloudy

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Posted: Friday, July 8, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - First, it showed up in the toilet.

Next, the kitchen faucet.

It even came out of the hose outside.

Dirty, cloudy water, and Sue Chisum wasn't sure what to make of it.

"I thought something happened to the water," she said late Thursday morning. "Something was wrong. I turned to my husband and said, 'Look, the water's turning dark.'"

Joe Chisum, a former plumber, turned on the faucet and flushed the toilet over and over. Same thing every time: Cloudy, brownish water.

The Chisums have lived in their home on the 700 block of Harrison Avenue for 12 years, and this was something new.

"My first thought was, 'We'll call a plumber.' Then I thought, 'Wait a minute. We haven't ever had a problem in the past,'" Joe Chisum said.

So instead, he called the city of Coeur d'Alene.

It was there he found the answer to the puzzle.

Joe Chisum said he was told work was being done on sewer and water lines just down the street on Harrison between Fourth and Fifth.

Someone, he's not sure who, told him to drain the hot water heater, don't wash dishes, and don't drink the water until it's clear again.

"He was nice," Chisum said.

City water superintendent Jim Markley said the water to the area was turned off when a section of the water main was replaced due to work on a sewer line. When the water flow changes directions or stops and then starts, it stirs up what he called "biofilm" in the pipes.

"That affects everything in the general area," Markley said.

The city received several phone calls from residents along Harrison and intersecting streets about the change in water clarity.

Markley said when the city became aware of what happened, it opened fire hydrants to flush out the cloudy water. By 11:30 a.m., about 90 minutes after the Chisums first called, it was returning to normal.

"It's not a health problem," Markley said. "It's an aesthetic problem. No one wants to look in their glass of water and see cloudiness."

He said had the city known what was going to happen, it would have notified citizens.

"We didn't anticipate there would be cloudiness. It's not always predictable," he said.

Joe and Sue Chisum said they weren't upset about the water, but would have liked a warning notice.

Joe wondered how many residents called a plumber instead of the city.

"If they didn't know it was going to happen, come by and tell us when it did," Sue Chisum said. "I'm sure they've got people who can knock on doors and say 'Hey, you might have a problem.'"

"I would have went out front and shut the water off," Joe Chisum added. "Then when everything is cleared up, turn the water on."

As it is, he said it will be a bit of work to drain the water tank in the basement. He'll also have to replace a new $39 filter he just installed for the refrigerator's icemaker and water dispenser.

"When I pay the utility bill, I'll deduct for the filters," he said, laughing.

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  • crisscross posted at 7:29 pm on Tue, Jul 19, 2011.

    crisscross Posts: 55

    "Invisible hand of the free market"? Kind of a stretch, given that this was a municipal water issue. But apparently not too much of a stretch for some in this progressive era of anti-traditional America sniping. Maybe the city will consult with one of those rotten, greedy private companies that specializes in such things for a little consultation. Maybe not. Either way, still a stretch.

  • Nutter Watch posted at 3:53 pm on Fri, Jul 8, 2011.

    Nutter Watch Posts: 476

    I was thinking maybe the public works boys got the lines reversed and that was what was making the coffee taste "funny".

  • The Truth posted at 11:54 am on Fri, Jul 8, 2011.

    The Truth Posts: 2193

    I'm sure the invisible hand of the free market will correct this.

  • yellow press posted at 10:58 am on Fri, Jul 8, 2011.

    yellow press Posts: 89

    how did the ppm and tds look in the water? were they tested? was the ph effected?

  • ancientemplar posted at 8:20 am on Fri, Jul 8, 2011.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1201

    Who is going to help the elderly living on fixed incomes, drain their water heaters? Who is going to pay their plumbing bill? Call city hall or the water department? The Bloemies won't help!

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