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EWEB helps rural water utility by donating equipment and staff expertise

December 30, 2022 Robyn Smith, EWEB Communications

EWEB crews assist woman putting water in car in Mapleton

In response to a call for aid this week, EWEB’s water division jumped into action to assist the town of Mapleton after a leak in their water system left about 260 homes without running water. 

Mapleton is approximately 45 miles west of Eugene, and the residents there rely on a small water system unconnected to any regional network. 

On Wednesday, EWEB deployed a 500-gallon water container and equipment for emergency water distribution to Mapleton residents, along with 3-gallon water containers for people to fill up and take home with them. 

EWEB also sent troubleshooters to help locate the source of the leaks in the system’s pipes. However, the leak-detecting instruments are currently ineffective because they require flowing water to test and the pipes are currently empty. Mapleton has not been able to refill water reservoirs, and therefore the pipes, because of elevated water turbidity.  

EWEB will continue to assist Mapleton by sending resources and sharing expertise. EWEB technicians are training staff from the City of Florence, which is also aiding Mapleton, on how to operate our emergency water distribution system. EWEB will lend Mapleton equipment for as long as needed. On Friday, EWEB delivered an additional 60 water containers to Mapleton residents. 

EWEB is reminding residents that emergency water supplies can be made safe for drinking, cooking and hygiene by boiling for one minute or adding 1/8 teaspoon of unscented household bleach (the label should say it contains between 5-6% of sodium hypochlorite) per gallon and then letting it stand for 30 minutes. Emergency water containers should also be disinfected before storing water. Residents can learn more here. 

Access to clean water is vital to every community and that’s why EWEB is dedicated to making sure safe, reliable water continues to flow to Eugene residents. 

Our critical infrastructure is less vulnerable to the type of emergency Mapleton is experiencing now due to the 55 million gallons of stored drinking water at three reservoir locations, Santa Clara, College Hill and Hawkins Hill, and new construction underway for water storage facilities near 40th Ave. These storage facilities are the backbone of our water system. 

Our Hayden Bridge Treatment Plant sources water from the clear, clean McKenzie River. Even with such a high-quality source of water, we filter and disinfect the river water to deliver safe drinking water to your tap.  The type of emergency affecting Mapleton is highly unlikely for EWEB, but we are planning to develop a second drinking water source on the Willamette River to make our system even more resilient.