Boil order remains, but power restored to Oquawka pumping station
Power to the Oquawka Water Plant was restored around noon Wednesday by AmerenIP.
When water levels rose to a dangerously high level earlier this week, officials made the decision to cut power to the plant, thereby cutting a major source of water to Galesburg. At 11 p.m. Monday, Ameren shut off electricity to the plant.
Since then, workers have been monitoring the 2,500-gallon, 1,000-horespower diesel generator used as a backup. A precautionary boil order was issued for Galesburg, East Galesburg, Knoxville and Abingdon on Tuesday afternoon in an effort to abate the pressure placed upon the generator.
Water levels receded about 9 inches within a 24-hour period from Tuesday to early Wednesday, which workers at the plant took as a positive sign.
“It gets us closer to the point where Ameren can get us on the grid,” said Galesburg water employee John Pecsi. “Right now, it’s a safety issue with Ameren.”
Around 10 a.m. today, the decision was made that water levels were low enough to where power could be restored. Galesburg city water superintendent Herb Heintz said Ameren employees first had to travel by boat to the plant’s control station and determine whether conditions were safe.
Once everything was determined to be favorable, power to homes and businesses in Oquawka was re-routed temporarily, said Ameren spokesman Neal Johnson. “Not all the power had to be shut off to everybody,” he explained. “The decision was made to re-energize (the plant) after evaluating (the water level, and) that only occurs when it is safe.”
Johnson said re-energizing the plant took more safety precautions than shutting off power because, when power was turned off, the change could be made remotely.
For re-energizing, workers actually had to get out in boats and make contact with the water, which could pose a serious risk if anything went wrong.
Heintz said he was grateful power was able to be restored approximately two days earlier than officials were expecting. Galesburg residents have been inconvenienced with the boil order, he explained, but that’s nothing compared to some Iowa residents.
“Three days of a boil order isn’t bad if your house is dry,” the water superintendent stated. “The goal was always to get water flowing to Galesburg. We wanted to make sure we had an adequate supply. I can relax a little bit because things are finally going their way.”
Michelle Anstett can be reached at email@example.com.