Borough Seeks Help from Rural Water After Equipment Failure Floods Water Plant

CARLISLE, Pa. – When an equipment failure flooded the Carlisle water plant, the borough sought help from the Pennsylvania Rural Water Association.

“Over 1.6 million gallons of water came down from the reservoir and filled the basement of the water plant destroying all the electrical components,” explained Dave Muzzy, a PRWA Circuit Rider.

A power loss created a mechanical failure that left a check valve open. That valve drained millions of gallons from one of the utility’s finished water tanks into the basement.

The borough used about 3 million gallons of water a day – demand that had to be replaced until the water plant could be repaired. Carlisle had interconnections with three different municipalities that, together, could replace about 2.25 million gallons per day.

“We ran a 2,000-foot line over ground to another water system that could supply an additional 750,000 gallons per day,” Muzzy said.

Muzzy and employees from Carlisle and surrounding communities ran a six-inch hose from fire hydrant to fire hydrant to establish a connection with Pennsylvania American Water. Many of the employees assisting Carlisle came in from vacations they took for the beginning of hunting season. The community also received emergency turbidity meters from the state primacy agency and spare parts from nearby communities.

“When it comes down to it, these communities are there for each other,” Muzzy explained. “Everyone really came together.”

The utility still needed water to regenerate the system.

“Everything had to be disinfected as if we were starting from scratch,” Muzzy said.

Local milk carriers hauled 200,000 gallons of water over 40 miles to refill the water plant’s filters and disinfect the system.

“I don’t know about other states, but in Pennsylvania using milk trucks to haul water is a last resort,” Muzzy explained. “We got permission from the state to use the milk trucks and they hauled all the water we needed in less than two days.”

After about 50 hours of repairs, the system was producing water again, but the work was far from finished.  The utility had actuators and other electric components baked to remove the water and restore them to temporary service.

“The flood-damaged parts are starting to fail, but replacements have been arriving,” Muzzy said.

After replacement parts are installed, the utility will be operating near its full capacity again. After three months of repairs and replacements, seven of the utility’s eight filters are back in operation.