Classes canceled in Wichita, boil water advisory in effect at least until Sat. morning

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 2:57 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update: In a tweet, the City of Wichita said it doesn’t expect water testing results back until Saturday morning. That means at least until then, the city’s water customers will remain under a boil water advisory. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will make the decision on when the advisory can be lifted.

“Ensuring that no bacteria is present and our water is safe for the community is our top priority and we will continue to update as we learn more,” the city said.

Update: Wichita Public Schools and several schools in the Wichita Catholic Diocese will not have school Friday, Oct. 8 due to the ongoing boil water advisory in the area. At the college level, Newman University also announced its decision to cancel classes Friday.

With a student population of about 47,000 and nearly 10,000 employees, the Wichita school district said it doesn’t have time to secure enough bottled water for everyone needing it.

Statement from the district:

Based on the water main break that our city has experienced, we will NOT have school tomorrow, on Friday, October 8. While the city has reported that the problem has been fixed, we are still under a boil water advisory. Because of this, we can’t have school without the ability to provide water for our students. With 47,000 students and nearly 10,000 employees, we do not have a sufficient supply of bottled water for everyone, and it is impossible to secure a quantity this large in a short period of time.

With the projected temperature Friday afternoon, and the fact that we can’t be assured all students and staff have access to quality water, we believe the prudent thing to do in the interest of safety is to cancel school for tomorrow (Friday, October 8). Because we do have a limited supply of bottled water, we will conduct Friday evening activities as scheduled, with water being delivered to the locations of the scheduled activities.

REPORT TO WORK: School principals and custodians, non-attendance center staff

NOT REPORT TO WORK: All other school-based employees, central office staff on teacher contracts

Additional updates as necessary will be posted on the district web site or social media channels. We look forward to seeing our students back in school on Monday.

Schools with the Catholic Diocese of Wichita not having class Friday include:

  • Christ the King
  • St. Anne
  • St. Cecilia
  • St. Catherine Siena
  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
  • St. Francis of Assisi
  • St. Joseph,
  • St. Jude
  • St. Margaret Mary
  • St. Patrick
  • Bishop Carroll High School

The Diocese said several other schools, including Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School were already scheduled for in-service for their teachers on Friday.

“It is the decision of these schools that their meeting will continue as planned,” the Diocese said. “Teaches, please bring your onw drink to the morning session.”

Update Thursday night: While the boil water advisory continues for the city of Wichita and several communities in the metro area, there aren’t any reports of widespread closures nor cancelations for Friday. Thursday night on Twitter, Wichita State University announced that it “will be back in full operations Friday following a City of Wichita water main break, resulting in water pressure problems on the main camps and east Wichita.”

All events and classes - in-person and online - will continue Friday as scheduled.”

“At this point in time, however, the city remains under a boil water advisory. While WSU restrooms and sinks will be fully operational, if you plan to be at an of Wichita State’s locations Friday, consider bringing bottled water and hand sanitizer,” the university said.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced that the boil water advisory for the City of Bel Aire is rescinded.

“Bel Aire is currently receiving water service from the Chisholm Creek Utility Authority and is not using the City of Wichita water connection,” the KDHE explained.

The KDHE said any customer that receives a bill for water service from the City of Wichita should continue following boil water precautions that include the following:

  • If your tap water appears dirty, flush the water lines by letting the water run until it clears.
  • Boil water for one minute prior to drinking or food preparation or use bottled water.
  • Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic ice maker.
  • Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.
  • Water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing so that water is not ingested. Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult their physicians.

With the advisory comes a higher demand for bottled water. Dillons reported that it’s working with Coca Cola and Pepsi to get more water to all of its Wichita store locations and that stores expected to have more water available Friday morning.

Update Thursday evening: The City of Wichita says its water customers should no longer be experiencing water outages due to the water main break, but are still under a boil water advisory. The city said the advisory will stay in effect until it’s lifted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

The city confirmed the main break, contributing to a low system pressure, has been identified and isolated and system pressure has returned to normal. As crews work to repair the water main break near 17th Street North and Interstate 135, traffic is reduced to two lanes on northbound I-135.

“Surrounding cities who receive water from Wichita have been notified and are working with KDHE directly to determine whether an advisory is needed for their customers,” the city said.

The boil water advisory is in effect for the cities of Wichita, Andover Benton, Kechi, Rose Hill, Derby and Valley Center. as well as Sedgwick County Rural Water Districts, 1, 2 and 3.

Update: The City of Wichita issued a boil water advisory following a major water main break that impacted residents and businesses across the city. The water main break happened about 2:30 p.m. near 17th Street North and Interstate 135, lowering water pressure.

With the boil water advisory, the city advises boiling water for up to one minute before using city water for drinking or food prep. With the advisory, don’t use ice from a household icemaker. Water for bathing doesn’t need to be boiled, but children should be supervised to make sure they don’t ingest any of the water.

Wichita Public Works Director Alan King said the city’s water treatment plant experienced some difficulties and had a power interruption from Evergy, shutting down all equipment and pumps. When the system restarted, King said city crews noticed they were losing pressure, but that pressure never did get to zero, but did get below a level deemed safe by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. King said the KDHE provided some guidelines, including the call for Wichita to issue the boil water advisory as a precaution.

King said it’s believed the problem impacting people across Wichita is due to a major water main break that may be associated with the city’s water treatment plant powering back up after the outage.

The City of Wichita is responding to a water main break that appears to be impacting much of the city.

“Many in the city are experiencing water system pressure loss. Staff is investigating and will share more information later,” said the city on Twitter.

Wichita State University said Thursday its water service will be interrupted until the main is repaired.

We are in contact with the city to find out when the issue may be fixed.

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