ROBERTS, Ill. (WCIA) – It all started with a post on Facebook. Roberts Mayor, Matt Vaughn, made an emergency announcement to stop using water immediately. The main water well had stopped working, and the water tower would be dry within 24 hours.
“How does a town go without water?” Cindy Thielmann, owner of the Happy Days Diner, said.
Vaugn said it happened because of a few small holes in the pipes.
“Age. There’s nothing else that could’ve been done to predict it. It’s just the age of the pipes, and eventually they rusted through, and collapsed under the weight of the water coming in through the holes in the pipe,” he said.
The village has a backup well in case something like this happens, but it’s not operating right now.
Vaughn said they didn’t know it wasn’t working until the former water superintendent was fired about a year ago. That’s when they learned he was faking documents that said the backup well was working, when it actually wasn’t.
“I don’t know anything about water. So, I wouldn’t have been able to check and know whether he was right,” he said.
The bill to fix it would put Roberts in a financial strain. Vaugn said they told the EPA and have been working to get money to fix it.
In the meantime, they didn’t think the main well would fail.
Cindy Thielemann owns the Happy Days Diner in town. She said when they learned the water was out, they bought about 75 gallons of water, that way they could still run. She said she knew there were several hands offering help.
“I mean for small towns, extremely supportive, the whole area. So, we are very thankful,” she said.
Vaugn said the bill to repair the main well is about $20,000, but to repair the backup well is much higher. He said it could be between 40 and 60 thousand dollars for that. He said he is reaching out to state and federal entities to try and get help.
Meanwhile, he said repairs and tests they did on the main well should keep it running for years.