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February 2021 Emergency Water Conservation

As of 2/19/2021, this crisis is considered ended. A final notice was posted on our website regarding this extended utility challenge.

NEWS RELEASE February 17, 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Moon | [email protected] | 913-755-2146 x103



Osawatomie, Kansas – The City of Osawatomie continues to battle against the elements to keep our utilities online during this historical, record-breaking extreme cold. Our community is now facing a second set of critical utility challenges with water intake and distribution due to frozen lines. The continued severe winter weather has resulted in the primary water intake line from the Marais des Cygnes river being frozen where it is exposed above ground leading into the plant. Our utility crews are bringing in additional heaters to get the line reopened, but it will be several hours before it’s fluid enough to pull water from the river into the plant for treatment and distribution.

We are asking all residents and businesses to conserve water over the next 12 hours to preserve the supply in our water towers. Please be aware of your water use and do everything you can to reduce your consumption through the day today. If our towers run out of water before the primary intake line is reopened, we will not be able to refill them and the public water supply
will be empty. In addition to homes and businesses being without water, empty towers would also mean empty fire hydrants and our Fire Department would be unable to effectively fight any level of fire as their trucks hold a limited amount of water and would be unable to pull from the hydrants.

It is critical that residents and businesses in Osawatomie continue to be as conservative as possible with all their public utilities at this time. Electric, natural gas, and water distribution systems are all interconnected and this extended severe weather has tested each system to their limits across the entire Midwest. We are not the only community facing these issues, and we are not the only community requesting conservation efforts across the board.

As a municipality, the safety of our residents is always our primary concern and we are doing everything within our capabilities to keep our utilities on and functioning during this bitter cold. However, we cannot succeed in our efforts without the need for continued sacrifice from our residents and businesses. This is an “it takes a village” moment and we are depending on our
village to keep stepping up, staying together, and helping us reach the 40°f light at the end of the tunnel.

This information is being distributed via our website, official social media, and the Everbridge Alert system.


We have several heaters set up in the pump house working on thawing the primary intake line. Alexander Pump is also on site working to keep our pumps going. An additional rental pump will not be available for pickup until 1:00pm and will not be installed and ready for use until 4:00pm. By that time, we estimate to have around four remaining hours of water supply until we reach the 20% level where a boil order will then be required.

Your continued conservation efforts for all utilities are still critically needed at this time.

We will issue another update at 3:00pm and 6:00pm through our social media, website, and the Everbridge Alert system via the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.


Crews are still working on the repairs/thawing at our primary water intake facility located next to our plant. The intake facility is where we pull water off the Marais des Cygnes and into the water plant for treatment and distribution. Over the last 48 hours, the temperatures got so cold that the piping in the intake facility began to freeze. In regular winter weather, the pumping of water is sufficient to keep the pipes from freezing solid. But as the temperatures dropped to record-breaking lows and water consumption slowed as people conserved electric energy (less laundry, less dishwashers, etc.) our pull rate reduced and the pipes froze. This led to a set of cascading problems including broken valves and damage to some pumps.

As we work to solve these problems, we’ve also prepared an emergency plan that includes pumping water out of the river directly using a separate pump located outside of the intake facility and running 1,000 feet of flat piping (fire hose) to the basins. This allows us to temporarily bypass the intake facility, freeing us up to make the necessary repairs. In order to accomplish this, we’ve called on our Water Rescue team of the Osawatomie Volunteer Fire Department to cut a hole in the river ice so we can access the water below. We estimate ice depths at 4-6 inches.

We are still asking all residents and businesses to conserve water over the next several hours to preserve the supply in our water towers until this repair and/or bypass work can be accomplished. If our towers run out of water before we’re able to pull more from the river, we will not be able to refill them and the public water supply will be empty. This would also be a catastrophic situation for the Fire Department if they were to receive a fire call, as the hydrants would be dry. Right now our water tower levels are still sufficient as people are being very careful about their consumption (THANK YOU!), but should they drop below 20% we’ll need to institute a boil order for the entire City.

We’ll have another water update for you at 6:00pm, or whenever there is emergency notification needed. This information is being distributed via our website (, official social media, and the Everbridge Alert system through the Miami County Sheriff’s Office ( are grateful for all that our community is willing to sacrifice so that our utility crews are able to keep our infrastructure operational during these unprecedented times.


A slightly more positive update for tonight. Two pumps have been replaced, the primary intake is thawed, and water IS moving. We are producing around 1800 gallons per minute for processing, which is better than we originally anticipated.

We still need everyone to conserve as much utility energy (power, water, and natural gas) as possible through the evening and into tomorrow until we have a better idea of how the interconnected grids are adjusting to consumer demand and the slightly warmer temperatures.

We hope that by midnight we will have our tanks refilled and will be in a much better position moving forward.

We are continuously thankful and grateful for everyone’s conservation efforts — it may be more than inconvenient but it is making a tremendous impact! Keep it up, Osawatomie! We’re so close to being on the other side of this. Unless something critical changes in the coming hours, this will be the last update until tomorrow morning.

As always, this information is distributed via our social media channels, our website, and through the Miami County Sheriff’s Office’s “Everbridge Alert” system.