Iowa Rural Water Assists with Recovery Efforts in Hamburg

Iowa endured historic flooding along with other Midwestern states last month and conditions worsened for Hamburg, Iowa when the levees broke on March 17. Iowa Rural Water Association Circuit Rider Zeb McFarland headed out to assist in recovery and assessed the damaged areas with Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

After sitting down with city employees, a plan was developed. Parts of the water system that were still under water were closed. At the time McFarland and IDNR were on-site, a Do-Not-Use advisory was issued due to the inability to maintain pressure. IDNR requested that the city immediately start chlorinating the system. McFarland started contacting chemical companies and other cities to gather the supplies and equipment that would be needed.

“The city’s normal supplier was also flooded out and could not supply them with chlorine or anything else,” said McFarland.

After locating a city that had a spare pump and carboy of chlorine on hand, McFarland traveled 100 miles round trip to pick up the supplies. He returned and immediately began setting up a temporary treatment plant and tapping the main for an injection point. After some on-site water testing for ammonia with his SL1000 Hach tester, he was able to set the right chlorine dosage for disinfection.

On March 27, McFarland returned to Hamburg to check on the conditions of the temporary treatment plant and pump system. To meet the water needs of the community, Hamburg was also trucking water. McFarland received a report from the water system that the pressure was slowly rising, but leaks are still possible in the flooded part of the system.

“They are hoping for the water to recede, at which time they will continue to find and isolate valves,” said McFarland.

He identified 0.89 mg/L of free chlorine and 1.19 mg/L total chlorine at the source entry point that day.

“The system had to overcome ammonia in the raw water to achieve the free chlorine,” noted McFarland of the chlorine amounts.

Not only was McFarland assisting Hamburg, but other areas as well such as Glenwood, Iowa. As recovery continues, McFarland and Iowa Rural Water Association plan to maintain assistance to ensure that the water system in Hamburg returns to normal operations.