ROLFE - The city of Rolfe is recommending its residents boil their water until further notice.
For the past two weeks, valves have been replaced and maintenance has been performed on the city waterlines, and a new well is being dug behind the water facility, projects which city officials describe as "upgrades and general maintenance."
Because of the valve replacement, Rolfe residents are being ordered to boil their tap water until further notice. A notice placed on the city's website stated that "the Rolfe water supply is replacing valves at the water plant and may lose pressure in the water system on Thursday, July 19. Due to the potential for contamination it is being recommended that the water be boiled before using for drinking or cooking or that an alternative source be used when pressure is restored to the system."
A Rolfe city official, who declined to be named, said the shut-offs will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and that Rolfe residents have been informed to perform daily tasks, such as bathing or laundry, before or after that time frame whenever possible.
A Water Department employee, who also declined to give a name, said water service was off between 9:30 a.m. and noon Wednesday.
The water issue has caused frustration for some Rolfe residents, who feel they were not adequately informed about the extent of the project.
"Originally, the notice said to boil water because they were replacing valves," said Robert Taylor, of Rolfe. "That was no big deal. Then online they posted there could be shut-offs for three months without notice."
Taylor said he is concerned that his water bill will increase during the project because his water often comes out white or rusty.
"Sometimes we have to run it 15 or 30 minutes just to get it to come out clean," he said. '"I'm not going to drink that."
Taylor asked if the city would provide a "Water Buffalo" water tank to help provide the community with safe, clean water, and if it would discount water bills because of the excess running of water and air moving through the water lines, he said.
"Water meters spin faster when there is air in the lines," Taylor said. "The city said they are not going to do anything for us. But there are people who can't always get out to get or afford to pay extra for bottled water."
Rolfe Mayor Michael Hayek said he is experiencing the same challenges as other Rolfe residents.
"It's the same thing at my home," said Hayek. "I have the air in my lines, but I don't know that it is making the meters spin faster. I'm experiencing the same problems they are.
"We didn't go door to door with notices, but we placed them at City Hall and in all of the businesses," Hayek said. "There's been a notice on the local TV station and we put flyers out everywhere we could."
The bulletin issued by the city recommends that all water be boiled before drinking, cooking, ice-making, food preparation, and brushing teeth, but that it may be used for bathing and laundry.
Bacteria samples have been collected from the city water supply, and residents will be notified when test results are available and the boil order can be lifted, according to the website.
A second notice, dated July 20, was also posted on the city website, and it was announced on a local television station, in radio announcements and via the Pocahontas County Code Red system, which generates a message to residents' telephones. The July 20 notification stated that there would be times when water will be shut off without notice over a period of three months to perform work on waterlines.
Hayek said the project and water shut-offs could occur until September, but he hopes the project will continue to progress and that water conditions will return to normal. When it is complete, the city will have several new valves, a new well, several new fire hydrants and an upgraded water facility.
"We have the project scheduled though the end of September," Hayek said. "But it's moving along and a lot of homes are already getting hooked up."