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Backup water plan renewed

The Ironton City Council at its recent regular meeting discussed the action plan in the event of a water source failure.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship told members of council the recent chemical spill in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley and the widespread outage caused by subzero temperatures in Ashland, Ky., prompted him to take another look at the plan.

“Hopefully it won’t happen in Ironton,” he said, “but if it does, we do have a plan in place.”

The contingency plan includes activating an emergency connection to Hecla Water and Coal Grove Water and bottled water distribution from Pepsi and Tyler Mountain. The plan also outlines notifying “critical water users” of the situation and the need to boil water.

The “critical water users” are St. Mary’s Hospital, Jo-Lin Health Center and the Sanctuary of the Ohio Valley.

The second item outlined is notifying the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s district office and the EPA’s emergency response as well as law enforcement agencies, health departments, utility providers, media and emergency medical services.

“People need water and some places, like hospitals and nursing homes, literally can’t go a minute without it,” Blankenship said in a phone interview. “It’s important that (the city) does everything in its power and uses all resources available to us in an effort to provide water in some capacity even in the event of an outage.”

Once an alternative water source is identified, according to the plan, getting the water to the “critical” users is top priority. If the aforementioned water sources are unavailable, the plan allows for an option to get water from a barge or pump water from the Ohio River to the city’s basin.