WHITE BIRD, Idaho – When their water tanks suddenly went dry, the City of White Bird, Idaho called the Idaho Rural Water Association for assistance.
“They thought there must be a big leak somewhere,” said Kevin McLeod, an IRWA Circuit Rider. “They said the water just disappeared.”
McLeod gathered some tools and equipment, then drove to White Bird.
“I contacted Kevin that morning and explained to him our situation,” City Clerk Sandra Murphy explained in a letter. “He was here on the ground within hours, bringing with him specialized equipment and years of experience.”
McLeod spoke with the Mayor, Clerk and Water System Operations Specialists, and looked over the utility’s maps and documents. He examined the wells, which were working but produced very little water.
“We decided to close everything off, so the tanks would fill enough to conduct leak detection,” McLeod said.
They next day, McLeod and White Bird examined all the system’s valves and started searching for the leak. McLeod activated IdWARN, a mutual support network that allows rural water systems to aid each other. Volunteers from neighboring systems came to assist the effort and potable water trucks began hauling in water to help refill the White Bird tanks.
“I was impressed with the locals and their willingness to assist,” McLeod said. “Even a retired operations specialist who just happened to be in town that joined the effort for a few days.”
After a day of leak detection, they could not locate the leak and the tanks had run dry again. McLeod located an air compressor and started pressure testing the system to search for the leak. The next day, they finally located the leak in a fire hydrant. The leak was estimated to be at least 70 gallons per minute.
“The valves for that hydrant must have been closed, because I was connected to it before,” McLeod said.
Once the leak was repaired, they chlorinated and flushed the system. Tests revealed there was no contamination, and the city’s boil order could be lifted.
“I cannot express enough gratitude for Kevin’s over-the-top, quick response and his hard work in finding us a solution,” Murphy said. “I really believe that having IRWA and the IdWARN system was crucial to our success in restoring drinking water to our beloved town.”