GIBSON CITY, Ill. (WCIA) – A dry spell has struck Central Illinois. After asking the community to help out by conserving water Wednesday, Gibson City leaders were met with another challenge Thursday – a major water main break.
The main break was fixed within about five hours, but the city is still under a boil order.
Mayor Daniel Dickey says the IEPA approved a loan for a new well on the west side of the city Thursday. Once it’s installed later this year, he says it should give them an extra 500 gallons of water per minute – which will help in future dry seasons. But for now, the city has asked everyone to do their part and cut back.
“I grew up on a farm so I understand that the rain will come eventually whether we want it or not,” Will Provin said.
Burgers & Beer bartender Will Provin says he always keeps bottled water at his home in Gibson City.
“I filter water ahead of time into jugs so I’m always prepared for it,” Provin said.
Prepared for things like water restrictions and boil orders – two things that are in effect right now.
“This morning we were a little concerned with the low water pressure as to how we would get our dishes done and what not,” Burgers & Beer manager Julie Schroeder said.
Businesses are adapting however they can.
“Obviously, we can’t use our pop machines because water comes through that. So I’ve had to go buy canned pop, bottles of water – so that we can serve all that,” Schroeder said.
Mayor Dickey says over the past couple weeks, water consumption has spiked, and they’re waiting for enough rain to replenish their wells.
“We’re way below normal as far as rainfall. Sometimes you got to put restrictions on,” Dickey said. “We’re just trying to be proactive so we don’t run out of water.”
For now, watering lawns is prohibited. He says it’s to give the plant some breathing room – as they’ve seen an increase of 200-300,000 extra gallons of water being used per day.
“People are using more water because it’s dry,” he said.
Plus, it’s the time of year people fill up their pools.
“Hopefully once that’s done if they don’t water their grass for a while hopefully here in the next week or two we can lift that,” he said.
On top of that, an 8-inch pipe burst a block away from the water plant, which meant water was briefly shut off everywhere Thursday morning. Luckily, Dickey says the number of main breaks is down compared to previous years – and this is the first one the city’s had since last October.
“We’re doing a lot of repairs, we’re doing a lot of upgrades. I think it’s making a difference,” he said.
It’s especially good news for Will Provin, who’s also a volunteer firefighter.
“We had to ask the town to conserve water and the great thing about Gibson is everyone comes together and they really support everyone in town,” Provin said, referring to a recent fire.
The city sent water samples in for testing and hopes they’ll be able to lift the boil order Friday morning.
Mayor Dickey says a misconception has spread around social media that the city is on the Mahomet aquifer. He wants people to know that’s not true. The nearest boundaries are roughly five miles south and eight miles east of Gibson City.