Southern Iowa Rural Water Association and Creston Water Works announced Thursday night a boil order has been issued for much of the area, effective 8 a.m. today.
According to a press release from SIRWA, the Creston Water Treatment Plant is experiencing problems with the membrane filtration system. Because of these issues, there is an increased chance the water may contain disease-causing organisms.
"We've been working with the manufacturer where we bought the membranes," SIRWA Manager Dan McIntosh said. "They haven't given us a definite answer. It's not going to be over tomorrow, I can tell you that."
Those in the affected area should not drink water without boiling it first. Water should be brought to a boil, let it boil for one minute and then let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and food preparation until further notice.
"Do not use the water from your refrigerator or your ice dispenser," said Jo Duckworth of Union County Emergency Management. "People will do that, I know they will, thinking it will get filtered out. It doesn't work."
Duckworth said the water is OK to cook with, as most times when cooking with water, the water is boiled anyway.
According to Duckworth, the water is also OK to use for laundry, bathing or shaving, but should not be used to brush teeth.
"The real concern is people who already have health issues, they will be more likely to be impacted if they use the water – babies, young children," Duckworth said.
The affected area includes the following counties and towns: Adams County (Nodaway, Prescott and surrounding rural areas), Clarke County (Murray and surrounding rural areas west of Interstate 35), Decatur County (Grand River and surrounding rural areas west of Interstate 35), Madison County (Macksburg and surrounding rural areas), Ringgold County (Beaconsfield, Benton, Delphos, Diagonal, Ellston, Kellerton, Maloy, Mount Ayr, Redding, Sun Valley, Tingley and surrounding rural areas), Taylor County (Bedford, Blockton, Conway, Clearfield, Gravity, Lenox, Sharpsburg and surrounding rural areas) and Union County (Afton, Arispe, Creston, Cromwell, Kent, Lorimor, Shannon City, Thayer and surrounding rural areas).
Duckworth said inventories have been done at the grocery stores in the area, and stores are working hard to get truckloads of water delivered.
"If that becomes an issue, I'll be asking for help from the state," Duckworth said. "At this point, I think our stores can handle it. I would call ahead to make sure they have water in stock. I know water is coming in in a couple of hours for most of them. I'm sure the convenience stores will try to get extra water in, also."
The SIRWA press release says, "The 12-Mile Treatment Plant had a failure in its filtering system. We are working to correct the problem at this time and will keep the public informed of the progress. We will inform you when the membrane filtration system is functioning properly and when you no longer need to boil your water."
McIntosh said SIRWA will post on its website as soon as it has an update on the situation, and will also alert media outlets.
"People are just going to have to be patient, Duckworth said. "There has to be two clean tests. Water quality has been diminishing for a couple of days. They're working very hard out at the water treatment plant to get things back on track. It's going to take time."
Duckworth suggest placing something over faucets as a reminder not to use the water.
For more information, contact SIRWA at 641-782-5744 or Creston Water Works at 641-782-5817. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.