Flooding in the basement of the Junction City water plant last Thursday morning left Junction City, Grandview Plaza and Rural Water District Four with a lack of water service. It took the remainder of the week to restore the service and a boil water advisory is still in effect as of Tuesday.
According to a statement from City Manager Allen Dinkel for more than 30 years the City contracted with Veolia Water to operate the water and wastewater operations. "We understand that everyone wants complete and thorough details as to what occurred. At the same time what occurred in its entirety may have contractual ramifications which could affect the City and its water customers.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15th, the electric power to the water plant was interrupted, it appears due to the wind storm moving through the region. The plant was switched to an alternate power source, the natural gas fired generator located at the water plant.
On Thursday a Veolia employee made the decision to switch the operation of the plant from the generator back to Evergy. The City continues to investigate and evaluate why that occurred and the full ramifications. Water entered the basement and warning systems were in place at that time. Dinkel said, "We are looking into the reactions and actions taken by Veolia and its staff to the alarms and water levels in the basement."
Crossland Construction employees responded, including their electrical sub-contractor. Local electricians and HDR Engineering staff and City staff also began to address the damage.
Replacing the damaged electric system in the basement was the biggest issue to address. After the water was pumped from the building, the electricians and others began replacing that infrastructure. Many hours were spent restoring water service and efforts continue to monitor the water services provided to the community.
The City has reached out to Veolia Water and is in discussions on the whole incident with Veolia.
The City built the plant more than 30 years ago and Phase One of remodeling and updating the facility was completed in 2014. Phase Two of remodeling has been under way, but Dinkel noted that HDR Engineering will address what, if any, other changes are needed. The back-up generation system was working and serving the community until the switch back to Evergy. All of the alarms and precautions to alert about water entering the facility were in place and operational.