Empire residents can resume their normal water usage, as the town has lifted its boil order.
Its drinking water supply has returned to normal levels, the town confirmed via its Facebook page on April 6, and the water distribution system has been flushed of extra chlorine and tested several times.
According to Police Chief John Stein, Denver Water has inspected the entire town’s water distribution system thoroughly and the only leaks and breaks identified were on private property. Denver Water didn’t identify any leaks or breaks in the town’s portion of the system.
One home had a moderate-sized leak from a 1-inch line; another had a broken toilet; a third had a broken water heater; and multiple unoccupied homes had faucets dripping or fully on.
If it was just the moderate leak on its own, Empire might’ve seen some reduction. But all those issues, compounded with last month’s subzero temperatures, drained Empire’s water supply. Then, when the town started asking everyone to conserve water, that seemingly led to additional water use as everyone scrambled to stockpile it, Stein described.
“We probably could’ve stayed above it with just one issue,” he said. “But with everything compounded together, we just ran dry.”
As of April 7, Stein said almost everyone in town should have full water service again. Only a few homes with known problems remain shut off.
Empire and its partners will be working on an after-action plan in the coming weeks to examine what it did well and what it should’ve done better, he stated.
It will also identify ways it can avoid similar situations in the future, with Stein giving the example of having water meters installed at every residence and business. Only half of Empire residences have water meters, he said, so if everyone had them, it would’ve been easier to identify the homes with abnormally high use.