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Woodward water main break closes district schools

An early morning water main break Monday left Woodward residents without water and resulted in the closing of all Woodward-Granger schools. A state-ordered boil order ended around noon Wednesday.

City Clerk Christina Perkins said the shutdown occurred about 6 a.m. and left the city of 1,000 people without water for about eight hours.

Public Works Director Chris Newland said an automated alarm system warned of the pressure drop around 2:30 a.m.

City crews spent about four hours searching for the break on Cedar Street on the city’s south side.

Their efforts were hampered by darkness and frigid conditions. The rapid water outflow meant the system had to be shut down to retain some water in the tank for emergencies, he said

Newland said The Iowa Department of Natural Resources requires the boiling of drinking water when a water system loses pressure, an event that could allow contaminated water to enter the system. The city of Woodward was required to submit water samples obtained from eight different locations for testing for several days, Newland said.

Fareway Stores in Boone trucked in four pallets of free bottled water for Woodward residents. The water was provided for pickup at the Woodward-Granger Middle School.

Brad Anderson, Superintendent for Woodward-Granger Community Schools, said he was notified by Woodward Mayor Brian Devick about 6:20 a.m. He said he elected to close all district schools, including the Granger elementary school, although that city had abundant water.

“The choice to close the entire district versus just the Middle and High School building was simply based on valuing an educational day,” he said. “When over half the district’s kids cannot come to school then the educational value for half our kids is minimized. I would much rather have the majority of the student body be present to gain the maximum amount of instructional time in the 7-hour day.

All schools reopened for classes Tuesday.

Anderson said, the Woodward facilities made adjustments to its operations in light of the ban on drinking tap water. “We emptied all ice machines, made arrangements with the kitchen to prepare and serve food without the use of school water, placed bags over the drinking fountains and made announcements to have students bring bottled drinking water from home,” he said. Fareway’s bottled water was also provided.

Some 850 students are enrolled in the district.

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