Power outage led to Blaine's second boil water advisory of 2017

The second disruption to Blaine's city water pressure in two months spurred school closings and a boil water advisory Monday, but city officials said it was unrelated to a similar incident in January.In both cases, systems intended to monitor and react to...

Power outage led to Blaine's second boil water advisory of 2017

The second disruption to Blaine's city water pressure in two months spurred school closings and a boil water advisory Monday, but city officials said it was unrelated to a similar incident in January.

In both cases, systems intended to monitor and react to low water levels in the city's water towers did not properly communicate problems. City officials attributed the January disruption to a software error and this weekend's to a power supply failure. That failure occurred Saturday, but became apparent as water use rose on Sunday night.

"The cause of the communication problem is different," City Administrator Clark Arneson said at a news conference Monday.

He added: "We are working by the minute to ensure that will never happen again."

Cities issue boil water advisories when water pressure drops below a certain level, since that could allow bacteria or chemicals to backflow into the system. The city was waiting for the results from a test of the city's water, expected at 10 p.m. Monday, before deciding when to end the boil water advisory.

"It's so much about caution," said Stew Thornley, health educator with the Minnesota Department of Health. "And of course everybody knows that issuing an advisory to boil water brings about a huge inconvenience." Blaine City Administrator Clark Arneson addresses the media following the boil water advisory.

Arneson said they determined the cause of January's software error, but repeatedly declined to elaborate — citing Minnesota's open records law. He began the news conference with a disclaimer that "the Minnesota Data Practices Act prohibits me from commenting on any personal matters."

It wasn't an attack on the system, however.

"There was neither criminal intent, nor criminal action, to disrupt water service to the city of Blaine," Arneson said.

The city uses software from Blaine-based In Control, Inc., for its monitoring system. It has replaced the power supply and Arneson said they will be adding additional sensors on separate systems to avoid future problems.

"We are doing a complete scrub on our system," Arneson said. "It hasn't happened before. These are independent issues. We have a very safe water system."

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