The ERIE WATER WORKS is at the forefront of emergency preparedness, being a part of local emergency response agencies and by making an investment in infrastructure to enable the system to operate independent of other utilities or agencies. Erie is also a member of the Pennsylvania Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network, that operates the mutual aid effort in Pennsylvania and allows Erie Water to assist and also to depend upon all of the other member utilities across PA for emergency services. During Superstorm Sandy, Erie loaned a generator to the Lehigh Valley Authority to aid that utility and their employees in maintaining operations following that disaster. At other times, this and other backup generation facilities allow Erie customers to rest easy, knowing that Erie Water Works will continue to provide uninterrupted service even during short and long term power outages.
Community Resilience – Being Ready For Emergencies
There are a number of reasons you could lose water service to your home or apartment and it is relatively simple to prepare for that potential:
- A Loss of Power could cause your home to lose water pressure or water service entirely. This would not generally cause an immediate loss of water because the water system has “storage” of large volumes of water that could supply customers with treated water for several days in most areas. However, a power outage in your area for an extended period of time could cause some loss of pressure and ultimately a loss of water totally. Prepare for that ahead of time and you can maintain normal service. If advised to reduce consumption, here are some tips.
- Keep a package of baby wipes around, they can assist with cleanups and washing if water for baths and showers is lost.
- Have bottled water in storage. A gallon of water per day for each person will suffice for drinking and cooking needs.
- If there is warning, fill tubs and buckets with water for washing dishes, toilet
flushing (pour a gallon rapidly into the toilet bowl to allow the toilet to flush with an empty tank.
- Water Main Breaks often cause short term water service interruptions and can be disrupting for a brief duration. Generally, water main breaks are repaired and service restored within twelve hours and most often in a much shorter time frame. There are a few things you can do to make the experience less stressful.
- Water main breaks are an actual hole in the piping carrying water throughout the system. These pipes are surrounded by dirt and stone, so when they break, there is potential these materials could enter the pipe. For this reason, once you become aware of a main break in your area, you should stop using water, to avoid drawing these materials from getting into your internal plumbing.
- Stored Bottled Water should be used for drinking and cooking during this brief period.
When water service is restored, open faucets in various parts of the building and flush any air or dirty water from the pipes. Run each faucet until water runs clear.
- Run water into a white cup and see if the water has any color and if you should run the faucets for a longer length of time.
- Frozen Service Lines will cause an abrupt interruption in water service during sustained cold temperatures and may cause permanent damage to the plumbing. Necessary precautions should be taken if weather forecasts are calling for multiple days of freezing temperatures. If you’ve had frozen lines in the past, or if you would like to safeguard yourself against frozen lines, there are a few things you can do to minimize the potential of your water lines freezing up.
- Run a small stream of water at your lowest spigot. Be sure the drain is clear. Moving water is less likely to freeze.
- Open cupboard doors on any enclosed water feed, especially if the feed lines are located along an exterior wall of your residence or business.
- Consider having a heat source in your basement. Before using any portable heaters, be sure to read usage instructions and don’t do anything that might cause a fire hazard.