Quechan reservation water restored
After more than 24 hours without water, residents of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation had their water restored Wednesday afternoon.
However, the Quechan Utility Company issued a 24-hour boil water alert. The water lines were disinfected and flushed to remove contaminants. Water test samples were taken but results were not expected for another 24 hours.
The utility advised residents to boil tap water for a full minute before drinking it or using to make ice, brush teeth, wash dishes or prepare food until at least late Thursday afternoon.
A notice by the Quechan Utility Company notified residents that the water supply may have been contaminated by fecal bacteria due to the line break. The company noted that the bacteria are particularly dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, including infants and young children.
Tribal President Keeny Escalanti said bottled water and portable toilets would still be available through Thursday at the Quechan Community Center, where the American Red Cross is lending a hand.
A break in a water line Tuesday led to the water shutoff while repairs were made and resulted in the closure of schools due to lack of working toilets.
Escalanti said an Imperial Irrigation District subcontractor hit the water line next to the water tank. Don Peterson Engineering, with assistance from the Quechan Utility Company, repaired the line.
Complications related to the age and deterioration of the pipeline system delayed restoration, he added.
Water was back on at 3 p.m. Wednesday, but line purging and testing resulted in full restoration at 5 p.m.
All schools in the San Pasqual Valley Unified School District and the Quechan Paradise Child Care Center, Quechan Daycare and Quechan Head Start closed Wednesday.
The Senior Center also closed Wednesday, leaving homebound residents without meals. Councilman Virgil S. Smith requested that tribal members check on their family, friends and elderly to ensure their safety.
“Community support is needed today. Thank you,” Smith posted on the Kwatsan Radio Facebook page.
The Quechan Tribally Designated Housing Entity (QTDHE) delivered water to scattered home sites, as reported by Kwatsan Radio. Bulk water dispensers were placed at the Senior Center parking lot and Community Center, as well as Ironwood Community Center and along Ross Road near the John Brown residence.
The Quechan Police Department delivered bottled water to residents and distributed bottled water at the QTDHE Elderly Complex. The Winterhaven Fire Department also had water available, but residents needed to take their own containers.
Bottled water was also available at the Quechan Casino Pipa Event Center, which opened its doors overnight to residents. It was equipped with water, cots and restrooms.
Although the Quechan Casino had running water, it was at full capacity. Residents were encouraged to seek out water in Yuma as needed.
In addition, portable toilets were placed at the community center and Paradise Casino, which also had no water.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.