Sheridan back to normal after water main break

After nearly a week of concern over water quality, everything was back to normal for Sheridan residents Monday after a water main broke last Tuesday putting the town under first a boil order and then a health advisory.

The water main broke not far from the pump station near Poppleton Street on Tuesday morning, causing water pressure to drop all around town, said Sheridan Mayor Dean Derryberry.

The water line that broke fed the town’s entire water system, which meant when it broke the entire town was impacted, Derryberry said.

“There was a section of pipe that split for 21 feet,” he said. “Where it broke was before it hits any of the lateral mains. It couldn’t have happened in a worse spot. I mean, it shut the whole town down.”

If the break had happened in nearly any other spot, it could have been isolated without impacting the entire town, Derryberry said.

When the break was detected, town officials called Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Madison County Emergency Services. Montana DEQ had the town issue a boil order immediately.

Once pressure is lost in a system, contaminants can be drawn in and impact the whole system, said Ralph Hamler, Madison County Sanitarian.

Any time a public water system is compromised, a boil order is issued while officials repair, flush and chlorinate the system to ensure all potential contamination is removed, Hamler said.

The town also called Allhands Excavation, a local company to help them fix the pipe, Derryberry said. The system was repressurized on Tuesday night.

As a result of the break and subsequent boil order, Sheridan school children were sent home at noon last Tuesday.

The county did a reverse 911 call process to notify the residents of Sheridan of the boil order, Derryberry said.

The boil order was in effect for about 24 hours while the town flushed and chlorinated the system and then began the process of testing. The health advisory followed the boil order and was in place through the weekend, he said.

Ted Woirhaye was the incident commander for the situation with the Sheridan Volunteer Fire Department.

Tuesday night firefighters brought potable water to people around town to allow them to flush toilets, Woirhaye said.

Water was also made available to residents at town hall, Derryberry said.

A couple of firemen visited elderly residents and shut-ins to make sure they knew of the boil order, he said.

Some early feedback Derryberry is hearing was that not everyone received notices through the reverse 911 system.

Throughout the incident, the town and county made three reverse 911 calls in an effort to keep residents apprised of the situation. Some people are saying they didn’t receive any calls, he said.

Other than that, Derryberry thought the whole situation was handled well. The leak is fixed and everything with the water system is now back to normal.

In other town news, Sheridan town commissioners voted to install Nick Paritz as the new town commissioner to fill in the spot vacated by Todd Young, who moved away last month.

Paritz was the only resident who expressed interest in filling Young’s position, Derryberry said.

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