Blaine councilman embarrassed by water investigation

Blaine councilman embarrassed by water investigation

BLAINE, Minn. - The mayor of Blaine is apologizing for two water outages the city has experienced in just over a month.

When asked if it's fair to say there was a lack of oversight on the city's water system, Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan told KARE 11, "Yeah. I think it would be fair. It won't happen again, I can tell you."

Blaine Police investigated the first water outage on Jan. 8, to see if the outages were the result of criminal action. The investigation found the first outage happened after someone shut down the software that sends out alarms when the water system has problems.

While that software was shut down, two of the three water pumps failed, and the third pump couldn't keep up. No one was warned until residents started calling 911 to say they didn't have running water.

The investigation into the first water outage found no malicious or criminal intent.

The police report, however, details a lot of confusion when searching for the cause. It made the investigation more difficult because security cameras and DVRs hadn't been working for months. Public works employees told police they have to jiggle the rusted cords behind the DVRs to maintain the connection, and often turned the power off to disable beeping alarms.

City Council member Jason King found it unbelievable that no one reported malfunctioning surveillance equipment, which would be relatively inexpensive to replace. He was even more upset it was possible for a public works employee to accidentally shut down the entire city's water system.

"If that person is not a senior level manager, there's no way in the world they should have access to potentially shut down the entire system without there being some sort of alerting involved," said city councilman Jason King.

The report also states that between August and December of last year, the city's water pumps failed 16 times. It didn't lead to water outages because, in those cases, the alarms worked.

The second outage occurred last weekend. A "power failure" was blamed for the low water pressure which resulted in a precautionary boil advisory. City leaders told KARE 11 the power failure was the result of an uninterrupted power supply exploding. And again, no alarms went off, allowing the problem to go unnoticed for more than a day.

The Blaine City Council is expected to discuss the water issues at Thursday's regular meeting set of 7:30 p.m.

(© 2017 KARE)


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