Langlois Water District (LWD) Commissioner Hal Fitzgerald read a statement Tuesday thanking past commissioners and employees for their years of service –– before telling residents they should begin boiling their water the next day.
A statement said Oregon Drinking Water Services (ODWS) was notified the district’s Direct Responsible Charge (DRC) officer had resigned, and they recommended a boil water notice be put into effect Wednesday.
Four recent resignations left the board with only two members and without a quorum, the commissioners could not fill open seats on their board or hire plant employees.
According the statement, the responsibility to fill at least one open board seat fell to the Curry County Board of Commissioners. (BOC).
LWD Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald said the county commissioners took action Wednesday and appointed Judy Hubel as the third LWD commissioner.
Following the BOC action, the water board held an emergency meeting at which they swore in Hubel and then hired temporary plant employees, including Darrel Lockard, a level 4 DRC, who is both licensed and insured, according to Judy Fitzgerald.
She said because the LWD board was able to hire a temporary DRC to run the Langlois plant, they avoided the boil water alert, or worse, closing the plant.
The possibility of a boil alert arose because plant manager Dave Terrusa resigned April 3 and the plant did not have a DRC to certify the water. Terrusa was scheduled to retire in June, but quit early due to conflicts arising at the March 6 board meeting.
Hal Fitzgerald and Judy Fitzgerald, the only two LWD commissioners remaining after commissioners Jo Heinzman, Bev King and JC King resigned, were unable to address any of the district’s issues at their April 3 meeting because they were left without a quorum.
Other workers at the plant were released because they could not work without a DRC, according to Hal Fitzgerald.
Hal Fitzgerald said plant employee Lenny Thayer had contacted someone at Bandon’s water plant who was willing to help Langlois and run the plant under his license, but the board could not hire him without a quorum.
Thayer confirmed for the board that the plant also had alarms for chlorine levels and sediment, and either alarm, if activated, would stop the plant.
Board paperwork shows three community members other than Hubel volunteered to serve as commissioners: Charlie Valentine, Thomas Medlin and Margie Vincent-Roberts.
The statement read by Hal Fitzgerald also noted the Langlois water plant was roughly 38 years old and was only built to last 30 years.
He said the plant has outlasted its expectancy by 10 years and the clear water tank has been repaired and patched twice in the same place.
The clear water tank holds processed water.
A new plant would take one and one-half years to design and build, according to Hal Fitzgerald.
“We cannot waste another day,” he said.
Judy Fitzgerald said she would work diligently to get grants and money to fund a new plant.
“There is money out there,” she said.
Both emphasized it was not up to them though. They said a new and fully seated board chosen by the community would find a way forward.
The water board was planning a special meeting 7 p.m. April 6 at the Langlois fire-hall where they intend to appoint two new commissioners and address other agenda items.
Reach Boyd C. Allen at email@example.com .