It’s not uncommon for municipal water system pipes to break, especially in challenged topographical areas such as the hills overlooking Brookings.

Water lines must travel in different directions and often need to curve with the landscape. Wear and tear on the joints can lead to breaks.

On Aug. 21, the City of Brookings issued an order for consumers to boil their water for the Marina Heights area east of downtown, following a line disruption. The order had residents boil water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation.

City officials said in a press release that the order was issued following a service-line break that led the Brookings Tidewater Tank to lose pressure and drain.

“When the Tidewater Tank goes to zero, it reacts with a suction backwards,” Brookings Public Works Director Tony Baron said. “We are sucking water out of other people’s homes. It can be contaminated.

“It’s called ‘backflow’ and is a standard procedure. We don’t like that it happens, but it is not uncommon.”

Baron said valves were turned off to isolate the leak. “Unfortunately, a few residents were without water,” he said.

Crews were able to refill the water tank, and the usual clarification tests were taken to ensure there was no risk to users.

“We had to wait for the test results,” Brookings City Manager Janell Howard said. “That’s why we put the order out. We wanted to be on the safe side.”

Howard said the results came back negative, that there was no contamination. The boil-water order was lifted Aug. 23.

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