UPDATE: Water Begins Flowing After Massive RLCD Main Break

Photo courtesy of Rend Lake Conservancy District

(Updated: 9:00am 5/18/2018) -- Thousands of water customers in southern Illinois entered a second day of water conservation Friday, as well as news the crisis may soon begin to ease.

Officials say crews were able to complete a bypass around the broken main in the Rend Lake Conservancy District early Friday morning, and water flow would slowly increase throughout the day. They'd been working since Wednesday afternoon to repair the break, but its location and severity forced the utility to suspend water distribution. The RLCD earlier said the workaround will provide only a fraction of the normal amount of water, so conservation orders will remain in place.

Wednesday evening, customers across the district were asked to start conserving water. Burn bans are in effect and residents are being asked to continue their rationing, and as the water comes back on, a boil order will be in place.

A map of areas served by the Rend Lake Conservancy District.

Photo Credit: Rend Lake Conservancy District

Carbondale is not affected by the breach - it has its own water supply at Cedar Lake. The City is offering assistance through its Bulk Fill Station at the McLafferty Road Water Plant. City spokesperson Amy Fox says the Bulk Fill Station charges 25-cents for every 50 gallons of water. The facility is open 24 hours a day.

In addition, SIUC's Student Recreation Center is offering free showers for people without water. The Rec is open from 5:30am-7:00pm.

The Rend Lake Conservancy District provides water for dozens of southern Illinois communities - including Marion, Benton, Mount Vernon, and many others. The reservoir - Rend Lake - is the second largest man-made lake in the state.

Bluford Unit 318 - CLOSED
Carterville Unit 5 - CLOSED
Crab Orchard Unit 3 - CLOSED
ALL Franklin County Schools (Including Project Echo/Starquest Academy) - CLOSED
Hamilton County Unit 10 - CLOSED (Daycare will be open)
Herrin Unit 4 - CLOSED (Graduation will be held Saturday at 5pm at the Football Complex)
Johnston City Unit 1 - CLOSED
Marion Unit 2 - CLOSED
Mt. Vernon District 80 - Closed
Mt. Vernon District 201 - CLOSED
Mt. Vernon Alternative School - CLOSED
Mt. Vernon Safe School - CLOSED
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School (Herrin) - CLOSED
Unity Christian School - CLOSED
Waltonville CUSD 1 - CLOSED

John A. Logan College (All Locations) - CLOSED

SIH Cancer Institute (Carterville) - CLOSED
Miners Memorial Health Center (West Frankfort) - CLOSED
SIH Rehab Physician Services (Herrin) - CLOSED
Rehab Unlimited (Marion, Herrin, McLeansboro, West Frankfort) - CLOSED
Lab Outreach (Benton and Marion) - CLOSED
WORKCare (Logan Park) - Patients can be seen at Murphysboro Facility
Logan Primary Care in Herrin and West Frankfort, including Prompt Care & Lab Services
The Breast Center in Marion
Benton Community Healthcare: Brian Harrison, MD and Diane Tomlianovich, NP
New Life Weight Loss Center in Herrin
SIH Medical Group Oncology: Alberto Cuartas, MD, in Marion
SIH Medical Group Ear Nose & Throat: David Mann, MD
SIH Medical Group Gastroenterology: Mack McCain, MD and Kristin Betz, NP, in Herrin
SIH Medical Group General Surgery at Herrin Medical Arts: Robert Brewer, MD, & Rodney Miller, MD
SIH Medical Group Urology: Don Arnold, MD and Aimee Belt, NP, in Herrin
SIH Medical Group Podiatry: Amanda Brazis, DPM, in Herrin
SIH Medical Group Internal Medicine: Pramote Anantachai, MD and Richard Kyle Buchman, MD, in Herrin
SIH Medical Group Infection Disease and Pulmonology: Linda Bobo, MD; Lori Ellett, NP; Kara Ferrell, NP & Raymund Pineda, MD, in Herrin

School was cut short in several districts Thursday, as the communities' water supplies slowed to a trickle. The SIH Cancer Institute also was forced to close, but staff was working to redirect patients to other facilities or reschedule appointments. John A. Logan College was also closed.

The City of Marion ordered the closure of all restaurants, bars, bakeries, salons, and hotels Thursday afternoon as water supplies ran short.

In Mount Vernon, city leaders issued a State of Emergency, and Continental Tire shut down the 3-11 pm shift. SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon has activated its Incident Command Center, but says it will continue to conduct daily operations and there should be no interruption in service.

Franklin County EMA Director Ryan Buckingham says they're continuing their assessment throughout the county, to find out the status of communities as well as their needs. He says while some communities may run low in some areas, others will fare better because they have more water stored in reserve.

Franklin Hospital CEO Jim Johnson says they've implemented their own conservation protocols, and cancelled elective surgeries until water service is restored.

Christopher officials suspended that city's water service as of 1:00pm Thursday.

Southern Illinois Healthcare Spokeswoman Rosslind Rice says Herrin Hospital is making a few changes - but has plans in place should supplies run low.
"Out of an abundance of caution, Herrin Hospital has implemented water conservation methods today. It's important that we assure our patients and their families that the hospital has ample water supplies to sustain operations and patient care for four days as Rend Lake works to repair the main break."

Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion closed clinics and medical offices and elective surgeries were cancelled.

State Rep. Terri Bryant says the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is prepared to assist immediately if called upon.
"So, at any point if the emergency management representatives from each of those communities asks for help from IEMA everything is in place to help them with that."
Ameren Illinois encourages residents and businesses who lose water to turn off their natural gas or electric water heater until the water supply has been restored.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio